Chhattisgarh minister Kawasi Lakhma told a group of school students last week that if they wanted to become politicians, they should grab collectors and superintendents of police by their collars. Lakhma, the excise and industries minister in the Congress government in Chhattisgarh, made the remark during a Teacher’s Day event at a school in Sukma district on September 5, PTI reported. A video of the event surfaced on Monday.

The five-time Congress MLA is seen sitting next to schoolchildren and recounting an episode in the video. He said that he was once asked by a student how he had become such a big political leader. “I told him to hold the collar of SP or collector,” he said, to laughter from students and others present.

The Bharatiya Janata Party criticised Lakhma and the Congress government. But Lakhma alleged that he was misquoted and that he had not used the words “collector” or “SP”. “I visit schools and ashrams to meet students and ask them what they aspire to become,” Lakhma told PTI. “Once when a student asked me what he should do to become a leader like me, I told him to study well and then fight for the public cause on the street and do hard struggle.”

The video was fake, he alleged, adding: “I told him to struggle hard to become a leader.”

Earlier this year, Lakhma had made headlines by warning voters that they will suffer an “electric shock” if they press any button on the electronic voting machines other than the one marked for the Congress candidate. Lakhma urged voters to press the first button on the voting machine to vote for Congress candidate Biresh Thakur contesting from Kanker seat. “The second button will give you a current [shock],” he had said. “The third button will also give you one. But we have fixed the first button.”

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