''We will take action against anybody, be it the Lt.Governor, if he makes any irresponsible statement,'' Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said, reacting to Mr Khanna's statement against north Indians. Talking to reporters after a Delhi Police function at the India Gate earlier in the day, Mr Khanna said north Indians had the habit of breaking the law, and take it as a matter of pride.
He made the statement when asked to comment on the recent attack against north Indians in Mumbai. This coment evoked immediate ire across the political spectrum.
Addressing a function to launch Traffic Patrol Scheme of the Delhi Police this morning Mr Khanna said generally in the region it was a matter of pride for people to violate the law.
He, however, complimented the people of south India for ''naturally staying within the ambit of law''.
''Mostly people of North and West India exude a sense of honour and pride in breaking the law and then boasting about it,'' said the LG while commenting about traffic violations in the capital.
Assuring the policemen of his ''complete support'' in taking action against violators of law, the LG said he was taking steps to ensure that law abidance among Delhi denizens remained a priority.
''It is important that people of Delhi treat law with respect and have a sense of fear while breaking the law.'' However, he clarified that fear did not mean high-handedness by enforcement agencies, but hastened to add that ''if people overstep the law, then the law enforcement agencies should not remain mute spectators and must take suitable action''.
Mr Khanna also said as Delhi's Lt Governor he had decided that effective steps would be taken to make sure that people here followed law in every way.
Prone to foot in mouth syndrome, the LG last month was forced to issue a clarification denying that he had proposed that carrying photo ID cards be made mandatory for Delhi denizens.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said if Mr Khanna had made the statement it was highly objectionable and those occupying high constitutional posts should be careful in making observations.
Taking a stern view of the LG's comment, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said, ''If anyone, including the LG, has given any irresponsible statement, action will be taken.'' BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy, doling out party's position on the issue said, Mr Khanna was a representative of the Government of India and demanded that ''The Government should make him apologise for his statement or else take action against him for this indiscretion.''
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking the removal of Mr Khanna for hurting the sentiments of North Indians who had been working in various parts of the country and fuelling the economic engine with their hard work and dedication.
Reacting to Mr Khanna's comment, Delhi BJP chief Harshvardhan said the Lt Governor should retract his statement in which he cast aspersions on people of north India as being prone to violating law.
Calling the comment as objectionable, Mr Harshvardhan said taking back his statement would save Delhi from unneccessary problems.
''Anyone violating law cannot be bracketed on the basis of region, caste, gender or religion, he is merely a violator of law.'' Such controversial statements create a sense of division among the people, he added.
Delhi Congress chief J P Agarwal, in his comment, said it doesn't behove a person of his stature to make such a statement.
''We in Congress do not associate ourselves with what the LG said about north Indians,'' he said adding, ''People in Delhi are law abiding citizens and any such statement only tends to demoralise them.'' People's Rights Front president and former senior Shiv Sena leader Abhimanyu Gulati said the statement by the LG was purposeful.
''The statement was part of a well thought out strategy of the Lt Governor.'' His statement would add fuel to fire to the already raging controversy over adverse comments made by Raj Thackarey in Mumbai, he added.
At the function the LG launched a motorcycle traffic patrol scheme, comprising 321 two-wheeler traffic controllers, to keep a check on traffic violations in the capital.
The traffic controllers would keep a tab on violations such as wrong-side overtaking, unauthorised parkings and zig-zag driving, besides regulating commuters, beggars, hawkers and jay walkers.
They would also help in maintaining discipline at bus stands and red lights.