In a clearest sign yet of simmering dispute between different ministries held by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle, cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, the two leaders publicly took potshots at each other's ministries and its officials.
Wrapped in the form of banter, this is for the first time Shivpal has used the public platform in the presence of a battery of newspersons to vent ire at the alleged hurdles being created by the finance and the forest ministries (both held by Akhilesh himself) in the development projects initiated by his irrigation department.
Shivpal even went to the extent of saying there were certain people who had been instigating the CM against his department and that he had to himself step in to clear the air and preempt any punitive action against concerned officials.
Akhilesh holds 57 portfolios, while Shivpal holds the second largest number of state ministries at 11. The two leaders were participating in an irrigation department programme held at Akhilesh's 5 Kalidas Marg official residence to dedicate 1,020 tubewells and 5 pump canals to public. 'Water Man' Rajendra Singh was also present.
In his address, Shivpal said the forest and finance departments would routinely put hurdles in various projects and without any valid reason. Recalling an incident, he claimed the forest department had even objected to a bridge project proposed in the arid Bundelkhand region.
Slamming bureaucrats for impeding development projects, he also took to task engineers for their alleged lack of initiative and public service zeal. He warned officials with police cases and incarceration if they failed to mend their ways.
Commenting on the foreign tours of officials, Shivpal said such jaunts were fruitful only if such officials returned with new skills and used them for public good.
On his turn, the CM referred to the 'spirited' speech of his uncle and said he had sent a couple of delegations to foreign countries, but to study treatment of tannery effluents and housing models.
Although, Akhilesh was less effusive in his tone, he made subtle remarks on the irrigation department saying he himself was an engineer and an environmental engineer at that. The CM said after taking over the reigns of the state government, he had now learnt where to 'tighten screws' and where to let be loose for getting things done.
Akhilesh's father and ruling Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav has time and again censured state ministers and officials for their lack of public connect and failing to propagate the good works of the government amongst people.