Shivpal Singh Yadav at his party office in Lucknow on Friday. (PTI)
Lucknow, Aug. 10: Uncle Shivpal is turning out to be quite a mouthful for Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The state PWD minister and brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav has stirred a hornet’s nest by allegedly telling Etah district officials it was “okay to steal a little” provided they “worked hard” and did not “loot” money.
“I have told the PWD officials that if you work hard you can steal a little but don’t ever behave like dacoits,” Shivpal Singh Yadav was quoted in the local media as saying in Etah yesterday.
This is not the first time that Shivpal has shot off his mouth. In 2006, when investigations into the Nithari serial murders of children were underway, he is reported to have said there was “nothing great” about such incidents.
Again, this April, when a team fighting cow slaughter asked him what steps could be taken to stop the practice, he apparently said “people are free to kill and eat nilgai” as its meat was tasty and it was found in large numbers in Uttar Pradesh.
Shivpal’s latest comment has provoked rivals to accuse the Samajwadi Party of being tolerant of corruption. They said it had campaigned against alleged graft in Mayawati’s regime before coming to power but was no different after coming to power. Its “double standards” had been exposed, the rivals claimed.
Former Samajwadi leader Shahid Siddiqui, who fell out with party bosses after his recent interview with Narendra Modi, slammed Shivpal’s “bizarre” suggestion.
“This is an extremely dangerous statement,” Siddiqui, a journalist himself, said in Delhi. “By saying you may rob but you should not be a dacoit, he was virtually encouraging the officials to indulge in corruption.
“All his chachas (uncles), whether it is Shivpal or Ram Gopal, are going to make life difficult for Akhilesh Yadav and the people of Uttar Pradesh.”
Leaders from the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party claimed in chorus that the “truth about Akhilesh Yadav’s crusade against corruption has spilled out”.
Shivpal, however, claimed the media had taken his statement out of context. He said his intention had not been to promote corruption. “I was, in fact, criticising corruption.”
Training guns on the media, he said: “We have always co-operated with the media. The media should know my background. They should have contacted me before publicising my comment.”