In what is seen as a move by the Mayawati government to settle political scores with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, Union Ministers of State who were here on Monday to attend the two-day coordination committee meeting of the Uttar Pradesh Congress were denied protocol, the facility of a vehicle, free boarding and lodging as they were not “State guests.”
Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain Aditya, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Jitin Prasada and Minister of State for Highways R.P.N. Singh were the ones to suffer.
Denouncing the decision, a Congress delegation comprising Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari and All India Congress Committee secretary Parvez Hashmi submitted a memorandum to Governor Banwari Lal Joshi on Monday.
It urged the Governor to ensure that the protocol and status of “State guest” be restored to Union ministers and chairmen of national commissions.
The State government's decision follows a GO issued last week withdrawing the status of “State guest” bestowed on Union ministers visiting Lucknow and other parts of the State.
According to an official spokesman, the facility would not be given for private visits.
The decision was purportedly taken against the backdrop of recent remarks made on the Banda rape victim and the involvement of a BSP MLA alleged by Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes P.L. Punia and the report sought by him. Since Mr. Punia, who had served as the principal secretary to Chief Minister Mayawati in 2002-03 and is now considered her bête noire, had created some uncomfortable moments for the government, the GO was seen primarily as a move to deny him official status.
Union Minister of State for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal told journalists here on Monday that the State government's decision was unprecedented. Mr. Jaiswal said no other State had done this.
Mr. Jaiswal said he was told by Mr. Aditya at the coordination committee meeting that he had to take a rickshaw from Charbagh railway station to reach the UPCC headquarters. The Coal Minister added that he had not been denied protocol.