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Indian politician orders likeness of herself replaced with taller statue

Indian politician orders likeness of herself replaced with taller statue

She may be diminutive, but the fiery, low-caste leader of India's most populous state has no patience for short statues of herself.
Mayawati, the 5-foot (1.52-meter) tall chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, ordered officials to replace a 12-foot (3.7-meter) bronze statue of herself because it was 3 feet (a meter) shorter than other nearby statues.
"Her statue was just a mismatch so it was replaced with a bigger and a heavier statue," government spokesman Diwakar Tripathi said Monday.
The new likeness of Mayawati, who only uses one name, is now the same height and weight _ 15 feet (4.6 meters) and 20 tons _ as the three others, he said.
Such facsimile equality does not come cheap. The combined cost of the first statue and the one that replaced it last week was an estimated 40 million rupees (US$950,000) _ no small amount in a part of India notorious for bad roads, spotty electricity and endemic poverty.
Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh, home to 180 million people, called the statues a waste of money, saying they were only put up to attract votes.
Mayawati, one of India's most visible low-caste leaders, has since her election last year developed a reputation for grandiose public displays, addressing massive rallies decked out in fine silks and diamond jewelry.
Such an approach has helped win her win the support of her fellow dalits, the so-called untouchables who are at the bottom of Hinduism's complex social hierarchy and have faced centuries of often violent discrimination.
The statues standing next to her monument are of other famed dalit leaders: the late Kanshi Ram, and Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a key architect of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar's first wife also is memorialized on the river bank.
Mayawati isn't the only Indian politician who has been busy erecting statues. In Mumbai, the country's financial and entertainment capital, officials recently announced plans to build a monument to a 17th century Hindu ruler that will be taller than New York's Statue of Liberty.
The statue of Shivaji, famed for fighting off the Muslim Mogul emperors who reigned over much of northern India before the arrival of British colonizers, is projected to cost about 19 billion rupees (US$25 million). The price tag also includes an adjacent museum and garden.


Updated : 2021-06-21 12:21 GMT+08:00