You can steal public money, UP minister tells officials
As BJP and others lashed out at him, Shivpal, who appeared to have given official 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 on Thursday in Etah, Shivpal, the PWD minister, 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.
At a hurriedly convened press conference in Lucknow on Friday, Shivpal 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 large-scale corruption, cheating and stealing which, I said, should be stopped hundred percent,” the minister said.
When reporters persisted with the questions on his 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 some how they entered 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.
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 licence to steal the public money. It is not appropriate for a minister to talk like this”.