Even as the Samajwadi Party regime is feeling the heat of the Opposition flak on the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, controversial remarks by two Cabinet Ministers on Tuesday have put the government in a spot. .

One of them, Shiv Kumar Beria, said at a party function in Etah that if policemen did not obey his orders then they should be prepared to be stripped of their uniform within 24 hours. The other, Ram Murti Verma remarked at another party function in Fatehpur that minor incidents could not be prevented irrespective of who was in power. Both functions marked the launch of the SP’s Statewide mass contact programme.

In what is seen as a damage-control measure, the SP has decided to seek a clarification from the two ministers as well as from leaders whose comments in the past have embarrassed the party and the government. Food and Civil Supplies and Prisons Minister and party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary told reporters here on Wednesday that the leadership decided to summon the Ministers and leaders to discuss the issue with them.

The mass contact programme, dubbed Uplabdhi Diwas (achievement day), which aimed at highlighting the government’s achievements and countering the Opposition’s allegations, was held in all districts on Tuesday.

Mr. Beria, MLA from Rasulabad in Kanpur-Dehat district, who was the chief guest at the Etah function, said officials and policemen “cannot even take their seats without his orders and if they do so, they will be sacked within 24 hours”.

Incidentally, SP chief Mulayam Singh has, at party meetings, always stressed good behaviour by ministers and party leaders, especially in their interaction with the public. Khadi and Gramudyog Minister Raja Ram Pandey was recently sacked by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for making objectionable and indecent comments about film stars Hema Malini and Madhuri Dixit.

Meanwhile, with Akhilesh Yadav leaving for the U.S. on Wednesday, Public Works Department Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav is likely to function as the officiating Chief Minister as well as shouldering the additional responsibility of Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan who is accompanying the Chief Minister. . While no official communication has been made in this regard, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav’s meeting with his uncle on Tuesday fuelled speculation. The Chief Minister also called on Governor, B.L. Joshi.

Mr. Akhilesh Yadav is scheduled to deliver a lecture at Harvard University on the successful conduct of Maha Kumbh.

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