UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has warned officials against corruption but his advice for officials sounded a lot like he was okay with corruption in moderation, leaving BJP red-faced.
Maurya is in charge of the Public Works Department (PWD) in the Yogi Adityanath government.
"Kamao lekin dal main namak barabar hona chahiye. Khao jaise dal main namak khaya jata hai (Eat but not more than the salt you would put in your food)," he told officials at a function to felicitate meritorious students.
May the leader quoted a wrong proverb or his message was just lost in translation but it looked like the minister was saying do take a bribe, but ensure it is not too much.
"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, Maurya said.
But then came the 'dal mein namak' jibe which left many officers and students attending the function in a shock.
This is not the first time, the politicians have raked up a controversy like this. 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."
The statement has given the Opposition ammunition to question BJP government's policy of zero-tolerance towards corruption.
However, the BJP claimed that Maurya's comment was being read out of context. Maurya made it clear in very strong words that corruption will not be tolerated under BJP rule.