New Delhi : The Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to create a special force to protect the controversial statues and memorials it has created in the state over the past two and a half years.
At a time when law and order situation has deteriorated and residents of India's most populous state do not feel safe, the state government's decision to create a special force just to protect Mayawati's pet projects is bound to attract criticism.
The proposed force is to be called State Special Zone Security Force (SSZSF). According to a government spokesman, the SSZSF is to be headed by an officer of the rank of Inspector General who will be assisted by some officers holdings ranks of Superintendent of Police and Deputy Superintendent of Police.
While the top officials would be taken from the regular Uttar Pradesh Police, there is proposal to go in for fresh recruitment with about 1,000 personnel to be selected initially.
The new dedicated force will be deployed in the state capital Lucknow and at Noida where several of Mayawati's pet yet controversial projects are located.
Her government is already facing criticism from the opposition for wasting public money to the tune of Rs60 billion (Dh4.75 billion). Besides putting up statues of some prominent Dalit (lowest in India's caste structure) leaders of the past, most of the money has been used to make the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder president and Mayawati's mentor Kanshi Ram immortal.
Defying all norms of not putting up statues of living leaders, Mayawati has put up her statues side by side with those of Kanshi Ram, justifying it by saying it was part of Kanshi Ram's will.
Some of these parks and memorials have statues of elephants, which happens to be the Bahujan Samaj Party's electoral symbol, to greet the visitors.
The Supreme Court has already ordered stopping further construction work and is in the midst of hearing a petition about this callous wastage of money.
Undeterred, Mayawati is now set to spend a few million more per month to protect these monuments, although the state's principal opposition Samajwadi Party has already announced that if voted to power, it would demolish all these statues.
The state is due to go in for legislative assembly elections towards the middle of 2012.
The SSZSF is supposed to protect Dr Ambedkar memorials at both Lucknow and Noida, besides the Kanshi Ram memorial, Kanshi Ram Sanskritik Sthal, Rama Bal Ambedkar Maidan, Buddha Vihar and the incomplete Kanshi Ram Green Eco Garden which was being built on a 120-acre plot when the Supreme Court intervened and stopped all construction work.
The Mayawati government has plans to introduce a bill and get it passed by the state assembly to legalise raising the SSZSF.