Lucknow/Etah: Soon after inviting controversy by giving ‘theft’ lesson to state government officers, Uttar Pradesh PWD Minister Shivpal Yadav came out in a denial mode, terming his remarks to be misinterpreted and wrongly presented by the media.

At a hurriedly convened press conference in Lucknow on Friday, Shivpal, a senior cabinet minister in Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party government, was hard pressed to explain his remarks.
    
He said it was a closed door meeting with PWD officials in which the media had "sneaked in" and "quoted him out of context".
    
"What has been reported in the press is out of context. I had stated that the erstwhile government had indulged in largescale corruption, cheating and stealing which, I said, should be stopped hundred percent," the Minister said, adding that the SP government had come to power vowing to end corruption.
    
When reporters persisted with the questions on his controversial remarks, Shivpal said, "I have taken back those words. So, why are you raking it up? I have always cooperated with the press. I don't know why the media is targeting me".
Shivpal said, "I was in Mainpuri and Etah for a district programme and vigilance committee meeting on Thursday. No media was invited for the meeting but somehow they entered the venue and recorded informal talks held with people's representatives and officers".
    
Stating that such a practice was against journalistic ethics, he claimed that only a portion of recording was shown and not the entire informal discussion, which was going on after the meeting.
    
"I am always available for media...If such a practice continues I will issue only written statements", the Minister said.
    
Shivpal said he was directing officers not to get involved in corrupt practices.
    
"In the past four months I have suspended 125 officers involved in corruption. Our objective is to eradicate corruption and I have directed 100 percent quality in works done by my department. There is no chance of any theft or stealing of public money", he said.
    
He said that he had ordered inquiry into corruption cases in previous regime and some of the cases were probed by the Economic Offence wing.

Shivpal’s ‘theft’ lesson

Raking up controversy, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Shivpal Yadav in his address to district officials in Etah had said that if they work hard, they can steal a little but they cannot go to the extent of plundering the state exchequer.
The bizarre statement has sparked sharp reactions from the opposition parties.

On Thursday, the PWD Minister while addressing a meeting has said, "Maine to usi din PWD walo se khule aam keh diya tha agar mehnat karoge to thodi bahut chori kar sakte ho, dakaiti nahi daloge (I have already told PWD people openly that if you work hard, you can steal a little, but don't behave like dacoits".
    
"Agar mehnat karoge, jee lagaoge, agar inhe meetha paani de doge to chori kar sakte ho (If you work hard, if you give them water then you can steal)," he had stated.

Parties slam Shivpal   

Slamming Shivpal's comments, BJP leader Lalji Tandon said "A minister's statement is like a policy of the government and if he says so then the government is offering a license to steal the public money. It is not appropriate for a minister to talk like this".
    
Former SP leader Shahid Siddiqui said, "Shivpal has always been making such statements. On Nithari incident he had said (such) things keep happening and we know how heinous that crime was".
    
"Now he (Shivpal) said steal but not loot...please steal, there is nothing wrong but do not loot," Siddiqui said, adding "It is very unfortunate that a minister who is the uncle of the Chief Minister and who does not consider himself anything less than a Chief Minister talks in such a way".
    
"This awful situation was not even there during Mayawati's regime and now you are giving officers a free hand to steal," Siddiqui said.
    
Asked about his allegation against BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, Shivpal claimed that he had detected Rs one crore fraud committed by him in the previous regime.
    
On Maurya's statement that he would take retirement from politics if his allegations were proved true, Yadav said he should do so.

Earlier too Shivpal Yadav had courted controversy by advising not to slaughter Cows instead kill Nilgai, an endangered species.
He had further said that Nilgai meat tastes delicious when cooked into kebabs.

JPN/Bureau/Agencies

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