UP bigwigs fight for numbers

Officials in the Uttar Pradesh transport department are a harried lot these days and the reason is the tussle among some VIPs to procure a particular number for their vehicles.

At least two ministers, a ruling party legislator, an official of the chief minister's secretariat and a powerful farmer leader want this particular number either for their vehicles or for some one recommended by them.

The prized number is 0001 in state's Muzaffarnagar district, about 450 kilometres from here.

According to sources, state transport minister Durga Prasad Yadav wants this number to be given to Pankaj Malik, who is a legislator from Shamli in the district.  

“The minister twice called the transport officials in the district and asked them to allot the number to Malik'', the officials said.

“We cannot afford to displease the minister as he is the head of the department'', they pointed out.

But problem arose as the chief minister's secretariat  also wanted the numbers for someone in the district.  

“We have received a letter from the chief minister's secretariat for allotting the number to someone else,” the officials said.

Sources said Minister of State Virendra Singh also asked for the number for his son and the district panchayat chairman Manish Chauhan, complicating the issue further.
Powerful farmer leader Rakesh Tikati, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, joined the chorus of requests, meeting the transport officials to ask for the number to be allotted to his son.

Attempts by district transport officials to resolve the matter came a cropper, as their request to the concerned VIPs to settle the issue failed to break the ice.
None of the leaders were prepared to yield.

Officials suggested to the government to auction such numbers, which would also bring additional revenue to the department besides avoiding needless controversy.  

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