NEW DELHI // The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has been ordered to cover every statue of herself during the campaign for next month's state election.
The Election Commission has also ordered the government to drape sheets over any statues of elephants, which are the symbol of Kumari Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, after opposition parties argued that they would give her an unfair advantage over voters' opinions.
In the interests of fairness, all statues of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, both former prime ministers and icons of the Congress party, will also be hidden from view, although Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said statues of Mahatma Gandhi would be spared.
"Mahatma Gandhi is not contesting the elections, and he does not belong to any party," said Mr Quraishi, according to The Hindu.
Ms Mayawati, who rose to power as a leader of the Dalit community, formerly known as untouchables, has shown a great fondness for her likeness since taking control of the state in 2007. Her statues, some of them as high as 8 metres tall, have popped up in parks and on roundabouts all over Uttar Pradesh.
Last October, she inaugurated a $120 million 33-acre memorial park featuring statues of several Dalit icons, including herself. Statues of her parents are expected at the park soon.
& Eric Randolph on