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Mulayam talks tough

Lucknow, March 4: Mulayam Singh Yadav today came down heavily on sycophants, urging chief minister-son Akhilesh to flush them out of his team and setting ministers a 10-day deadline to “mend their ways”.

Launching a welfare scheme at Akhilesh’s residence at a time his regime has drawn flak for bad law and order, Mulayam said: “In your government, sycophants are ruling the roost. You are surrounded by sycophant political leaders and officials. They are weakening the party image. You should immediately get rid of them.”

Akhilesh smiled wanly as the Samajwadi Party boss kept up the heat: “Ministers and officers, you better mend your ways within 10 days.”

He then turned to Akhilesh and said: “You should not fall in the trap of sycophants. It appears you have become used to hearing ‘sir’. The result of falling in the trap of sycophants is not good.”

Mulayam sounded annoyed that some ministers were sitting on welfare project files despite the onset of the election season and others were not working hard enough to resolve the junior doctors’ strike that has paralysed the health care system.

The doctors have been on strike for three days after they clashed with supporters of Samajwadi legislator, Irfan Solanki, at Hallet hospital in Kanpur.

The stand-off began when Solanki insisted that a patient he brought in be treated before critically ill ones but the doctors refused. After the clash, two doctors were arrested. They are still in jail.

The strike has since spread to Lucknow, Allahabad, Benaras and other cities.

Making it clear that the government should take prompt decisions and act swiftly, Mulayam continued: “The party is bigger than the government. This government is weakening the party. Some ministers have let me down and they still think they will continue in their post.”

It was not clear if the Samajwadi boss was pointing at urban and minority welfare minister Azam Khan, who had stirred a controversy in January by asking police and intelligence officials to track down seven of his lost buffaloes. The BJP’s Narendra Modi had taken a jab at this at a recent rally in Lucknow.

Khan, who was sitting beside Mulayam, quickly butted in: “Ab to kabr mein hi jaana baaki hai... baaki zindagi to aapke naam kar di (All that is left now is to go to my grave, I have already devoted the rest of my life to you).”