In an outrageous remark, PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, uncle of UP Chief Minister Akhikesh Yadav, told officials that they can steal a little of public money if they work hard but they should not behave like dacoits.
As BJP and others lashed out at him, Shivpal, who appeared to have given 'sanction' to officials in the state to indulge in little bit of corruption, went into damage control mode, claiming the media had quoted him out of context.
Chairing a meeting of district programme committee yesterday in Etah, Shivpal, 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 added.
At a hurriedly convened press conference in Lucknow today, Shivpal, a senior cabinet minister in Akhilesh Yadav 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," he said, adding that the Samajwadi Party 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".