Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who turned 56 Sunday, lashed out at the Election Commission (EC) for veiling her statues and that of the Bahujan Samaj Party's poll symbol the elephant, saying it was a reflection of the government's "casteist" mindset.

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Addressing an unusually low-key birthday celebration at the BSP state headquarter here, she also proclaimed that she was all set to bounce back to power in the upcoming state polls.

Maintaining that the celebration had deliberately been scaled down in view of the model code of conduct, she said, "We believe in respecting the model code of conduct, but it was really lamentable that the Chief Election Commissioner has very readily acted on the complaints made by the Congress and other opposition parties against us without even caring to pay any heed to our objections."

The poll panel had ordered that Mayawati's statues and the BSP party symbol, the elephant, be covered till the staggered elections from Feb 8 to March 4 are over. She said the move showed the "casteist" mindset of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. But she went on to term the EC decision as a "blessing in disguise", claiming that it would eventually prove to be a boon to her party.

Citing another example of EC's alleged bias against her party, Mayawati said, "Among the first few controversial decisions of the Election Commission was removal of two senior officers in my government who belonged to the Dalit community."

The reference was to the marching orders given by the commission to Principal Home Secretary Kunwar Fateh Bahadur and Director General of Police Brij Lal."My own statues were installed only in fulfillment of the wishes of our party founder Kanshi Ram and EC's decision to put them under a veil at this juncture amounts to showing utter disrespect to a great social reformer like Kanshi Ram. The fact that the Election Commission has not ordered covering of statues of leaders and icons of any other political party shows that the decision was least objective and not without bias," she added.

Taking strong exception to the covering of hundreds of elephant statues that dot every park and memorial erected by her at a cost of some Rs 7,000 crore in Lucknow and Noida, Mayawati remarked, "I am surprised that the EC refused to listen to our plea that the elephants carved out in the parks and memorials built by me were distinct from the BSP symbol."

"Unlike the elephant in the party symbol, where its trunk is down, all elephants in our parks and memorials have their trunks up, which reflects a sign of welcome in the true Indian tradition," she explained.

What seemed to irk her most, she pointed out, was that the EC did not take any note of similar objections raised by her party against symbols of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"The Election Commission chose to completely ignore our plea that the Congress symbol - the hand - is also widely visible in Hindu temples, where many a deities are shown with a raised hand. Likewise, lotus - the symbol of BJP - is also widely in use in all Hindu prayers, whether in homes, public places or temples," she said.

Even as she was critical of the decision, she sought to cock a snook at the EC, claiming, "Let me tell you that the Election Commission's order has given us huge publicity. In fact, I would like to thank the chief election commissioner for saving us the crores that we would have had to spend for so much projection."

"And how can I forget thanking the media for focusing so much on us by way of highlighting the Election Commission move," she added.