Except the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, all other statues or big images of political leaders and party symbols in public places have been ordered to remain covered in Andhra Pradesh till the end of April-May Lok Sabha elections.

To comply with the order of Election Commissioner of AP, Bhanwarlal, the State officials are said to have been draping all statues of political leaders like late NT Rama Rao, YS Rajasekhar Reddy, say media reports. 

The EC has ordered so as such statues, cut-outs or pictures of political leaders might influence voters in favour of a particular party. With the order, the EC wants to provide a level playing field to all parties in the election to Lok Sabha, Assembly and local bodies in Andhra Pradesh. 

The officials have also warned political parties that cases will be filed against them, if party workers remove the covers over the statues on the excuse to garland them.

The first fretting in AP over the covering of statues came from Telugu Desam Party on 11 March 2014. TDP leader Payyavula Keshav said that he has written to the State EC to spare NTR's statues from the model code of conduct, keeping in view of the towering personality's services to the state. 

Interestingly, Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh and YS Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR) in Andhra Pradesh flash in one's mind immediately when it comes to erecting statues of their own. Numerous statues of YSR were erected both during the leader's tenure as Chief Minister and after his demise. Similarly, Mayavati erected her own statues and elephant statues (party symbol) in Uttar Pradesh. The EC ordered to drape those statues in UP during the last Assembly election in 2012.

Now in Tamil Nadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin has filed a writ petition in the High Court, requesting it to order EC to cover all photos and images of Jayalalithaa and her AIADMK party's symbol, two leaves. Stalin says that these images of the Tamil Nadu CM could influence the voters. The court is yet to give its ruling on the matter.

A giant-size installation of Jaya's party symbol was erected by the rulers at the entrance of AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran's memorial on the Marina Beach in Chennai. 

AIADMK's symbol has also been painted on government-run mini-buses. Apart from all these, Jayalalithaa's images have been appearing on mineral water bottles, being sold at all major bus-stations of the state. Stalin has cited all these in his petition.  

(Edited by Anu James)