A video of Union power minister Piyush Goyal, in which he is seen repeatedly warning UP power officials to mend their corrupt ways and improve performance, has raised many eyebrows as well as apprehensions of growing centre’s interference in state affairs.
Many officials here believe Goyal exceeded his brief when he told officials to either turn honest or quit.
“Electricity is a state subject and the Centre should not interfere in the day-to-day activities of the power department of a state. But the minister as seen in the video clip is trying to do exactly that,” said DC Dixit, ex-general secretary of UP Rajya Abhiyanta Sangh.
“Not only he overstepped his authority but the language he used during the meeting did not suit his position,” said a power department official.
In the video, Goyal can be seen saying, “If any single person takes even a rupee as bribe, then he will have to face the severest action. And if anyone does not want to work in this new system, then he can tender his resignation by Monday morning and go back home. Accepting even a cup of tea is not acceptable at all.”
Goyal was addressing a meeting of the officials in New Delhi recently. Sitting beside him were UP energy minister Srikant Sharma and principal secretary and UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) chairman Sanjay Agrawal, among others.
Goyal is also seen ordering Agrawal to issue termination orders to those who are not ready to mend their ways.
The minister does not stop there. He asks the officials to change their habits. “Forget about your Golf club and other club memberships and also leave other bad habits, if any,” he says.
Goyal also tells official from Varanasi discom that he will himself come and monitor the work in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.
“How can a Union minister threaten a state’s officials like this in the presence of the state minister of the same department?” said an official here adding, “Under the federal system, Union ministers can guide and advise officials of a state but cannot directly ask them to resign if they cannot adapt to the new system.”
“Even the language the minister used was not in good taste,” said an engineer at Shakti Bhawan here.
However, defending the minister, a bureaucrat said, “The issue is not that big as the minister is talking in general terms and not targeting any specific officials.”