Bureaucrats can steal a little, says Indian minister
LUCKNOW, Aug 10: A provincial minister in India’s most populous state has sparked a scandal after suggesting to bureaucrats that they could “steal a little” if they performed well in their duties.
Shivpal Singh Yadav, in charge of housing and construction in northern Uttar Pradesh state, on Friday hastily withdrew the offer he made a day earlier during a meeting with government employees, which was also attended by journalists. Yadav is an uncle to the state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party stormed into power on an anti-graft platform in elections held in graft-ridden Uttar Pradesh in March.
“If you work hard, you can steal a little, but don’t behave like bandits,” the Press Trust of India quoted Yadav as saying at the meeting in Etah town, about 200 kilometres from capital Lucknow.
The comments drew flak from political opponents, prompting Yadav to retract his offer and accuse journalists of sneaking into the gathering.
“I have taken back those words,” he told reporters in Lucknow on Friday.
“Why are you raking it up? I don’t know why the media is targeting me,” he said.
The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party condemned the minister’s invitation to officials to steal.
“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,” local BJP leader Lalji Tandon said.—AFP