- Earn only as much as salt you have in food, said Keshav Prasad Maurya
- He is in charge of the Public Works Department (PWD)
- Mr Maurya’s aides said the comments can’t be taken out of context
A top minister in Uttar Pradesh has warned officials against corruption but his statement has become controversial. At a function on Sunday, Keshav Prasad Maurya, one of the state’s two deputy Chief Ministers, said: “Earn, but only as much as the amount of salt you would have in your food…”
To many, it appeared that Mr Maurya was recommending bribe-taking in moderation.
His aides say the comments cannot be taken out of context and twisted, and that the minister was clearly talking about fighting corruption.
What Mr Maurya said was this: “Nobody says now that the contractor will make money. We want a corruption-free system in which officials and contractors cannot loot money meant for building a road. Make money, but the amount should be like the salt we use in Daal. It is not wrong to make money or do business, but if you think you will loot public money then the BJP government will not spare such people.”
Mr Maurya is in charge of the Public Works Department (PWD) in the Yogi Adityanath government. Five years ago, his predecessor faced trouble over similar comments.
In 2012, former minister Shivpal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party was heard counseling officials at a meeting: “As long as you work hard and get things done, you can steal a little. But this should not translate into robbery.”
Mr Yadav, who was the second most powerful minister in then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet, said later that his comments were edited by channels and he was actually discussing ways to check corruption.