Pulling up his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over his “soft image” and urging him to become “tough” in dealing with law and order issues in the State, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh on Saturday called for greater accountability among District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police.

Mr. Mulayam Singh was speaking on the 103rd birth anniversary of SP ideologue Ram Manhar Lohia being commemorated at the Ram Manohar Lohia Park in Gomti Nagar here.

The SP patriarch warned of a “conspiracy against the government” to highlight issues in the State, saying Mr. Akhilesh Yadav must “show mettle” and create fear in the hearts of potential law-breakers and their patrons, shunning sycophancy.

Slamming the State’s politicians, he said: “I know what Ministers and netas are doing; nothing is hidden from me.”

The former U.P. Chief Minister made a plea for inducting more women in the party ranks as “political change is not possible without women becoming actively involved in politics.” Mr. Mulayam Singh said capable and educated women would be inducted in the party’s national executive and the State executive.

Mr. Singh referred to his recent meeting with senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, L.K. Advani, who told him that the law and order situation was bad in U.P. and there was corruption. “Advaniji bade neta hain and aur jhoot nahin bolte” (Mr. Advani is a senior leader and does not speak untruth), Mr. Singh said.

Even as the SP chief lauded the veteran BJP leader, he fired a salvo at the Congress. “U.P’s population is 10 times the population of Delhi, but the crime in Delhi is 10 times more. But, no discussion is held on the crime in Delhi. Only the law and order situation here is highlighted.”

Mr. Singh said the DMs and police officials should be held accountable and action taken against them if the crime rate continues to rise. The SP president said if the corruption rampant in Tehsils and police stations, which had become centres of loot, were to be wound up, things would improve.

Warning Ministers against lobbying, Mr. Mulayam Singh said action would be taken against criminals, whoever they may be. He told the Chief Minister to become strict in dealing with the mafia.