I absolutely love our politicians. I have to fall in worship and awe of their egos.
Who else but an Indian politician, a chief minister at that and therefore all-powerful, would build a massive, and I mean MASSIVE, statue of herself in a cathedral-like building that dwarfs the Chartres cathedral.
Of course Mayawati meant this monument to hers dalit self (and two dalit men standing behind her) to be a place of worship. It cost the state’s exchequer a mere 680 crore rupees. One moment while I convert that to US dollars – another mere 151 million USD, I think.
I’ve only seen the photographs of this Mayawati basilica. She stands in front of her edifice and just about reaches her own stone ankle. What I really love too is that her gigantic alter ego carries a huge handbag. It’s hard to get a perspective from a photograph but she looks, in real life, as the same height as her stone bag. What does she, in real life again, carry in this trademark handbag? Money? She needs cash to pay for the auto rickshaw, buy flowers from the roadside seller, a cup of chai too, and to tip the waiter in a dhabba. Or does it hold her makeup kit? Lipstick, powder, rouge, perfume, a comb?
Politicians never carry anything, their chamchas do. Indira didn’t, Sonia and Jayalalithaa don’t carry bags. They have black cats to do that. Besides, politicians never ever need to carry money. It’s a given that they’re LOADED with it, either in India or elsewhere. So why her handbag and what is in it, to return to my puzzlement? To prove her femininity, probably.
We love our statues of our politicians. They sprout, like some deity, in every street corner, square, maidan, traffic roundabout. They’re religious garlanded on their birth and death anniversaries, riots break out if they’re forgotten. At least for Mohandas Gandhi, the statues of him were built, and scattered like confetti all over India, long after he was dead. Now, being dead and statues after is out of fashion. They’re erected while the ‘great’ person is still alive so he or she can garland it, and admire it, while they’re still alive.
Mayawati should read Percy Byshee Shelley’s poem, Ozymandis:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".