Cop bends to wipe Mayawati’s shoes, official justifies act (Lead)

February 9th, 2011 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party Lucknow, Feb 8 (IANS) Defending Deputy Superintendent of Police Padam Singh, who created a veritable storm when he was caught on camera bending down to wipe the dust from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s shoes, Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh said Tuesday that “what the officer did was nothing unusual or new”.Justifying the act of Padam Singh, Shashank Shekhar Singh told reporters here at a late night press conference: “Padam Singh did it as a part of his duty and also on humanitarian grounds.”

The cabinet secretary even claimed that even Congress MP P.L. Punia, who is presently chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, had once helped Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder Kanshi Ram wear his shoes. At that time Punia was principal secretary to Mayawati and had gone along with her and Kanshi Ram on an official tour.

Shashank Shekhar Singh claimed that something was stuck in the footwear of the chief minister and therefore it was removed by Padam Singh as it could have caused harm or injury to Mayawati.

The cabinet secretary blamed the media for blowing the issue out of proportion in order to produce colourful stories.

Padam Singh is also Mayawati’s chief security officer. The clip showing him cleaning Mayawati’s shoes with his handkerchief was apparently taken on Sunday when the chief minister was on an inspection of Naunakpur village in Auraiya district, around 150 km from here.

The video footage, taken near a helipad where several people surrounded the chief minister, was relayed by television channels Tuesday. Padam Singh is seen bowing low to clean Mayawati’s shoes as she talks to senior government officials.

Mayawati continues to tour different parts of the state.

Asked for his comments, Padam Singh told journalists here: “Yeh to manavta ke nate kiya tha (I did that on humanitarian considerations).”

The opposition was quick to seize on the incident involving the Dalit chief minister.

Reacting sharply to the incident, senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan told reporters: “It all reflects feudal mentality of Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who believes in reliving the royal monarchy.”

“It appears that the security officer had some serious compulsions that made him perform the shameful act. I would suggest Mayawati appoint a separate contingent to take care of dust along her route and to do such errands as cleaning of her sandals.”

Congress state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi called for Mayawati’s resignation and said: “Mayawati should resign. On the one hand, she claims to fight for the rights of Dalits and, on the other, she disrespects a Dalit in such a manner.”

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also stepped into the brewing controversy and tweeted that he would not let his security guards carry his briefcase.

Omar wrote on micro-bogging site Twitter: “I won’t let my security chaps carry my briefcase, but I guess to each their own (sic).”

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