Office staff refuse to work under “brash”Azam Khan

Even as the Akhilesh Yadav government is again faced with a tense situation in the communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar district, a crisis of a different kind is brewing in the corridors of power in Lucknow, following a face-off between the powerful Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan and his office staff, who have refused to work under him.

Accusing him of high-handedness and of using unparliamentary language, eight staff members, including two private secretaries, have not been attending office for the past few days.

Informed sources said the government backtracked on suspending the eight employees on charges of gross indiscipline after it was informed that the decision could spark a massive protest by the staff of other departments also. In fact, the Uttar Pradesh Sachivalaya Karamchari Sangh (staff association) has threatened that it will paralyse the Secretariat if action is taken against them.

An official spokesman later denied that there was a move to suspend Mr. Khan’s private secretaries B.B. Singh and Jeevan Singh Negi, and additional private secretaries Mohammad Naeem Siddiqui, Avdhesh Kumar Tiwari, Santosh Kumar Prajapati, Mukti Nath Jha, Sarvesh Kumar and Santosh Prajapati.

No decision could be taken on Friday as government offices are closed till Monday for Deepavali.

However, steps to end the stalemate were initiated by Chief Secretary Javed Usmani, who held a meeting with Secretariat Administration Department Secretary Arvind Narain Mishra.

No solution emerged but, the sources said, an alternative arrangement was likely to be made with the staff members of the Uttar Pradesh Haj Committee (of which Mr. Khan is Chairman) being sent on deputation to the Urban Development Department.