jogendra behera
jogendra beheraFacebook/Dharmendra Pradhan

The Odisha government has stayed mum about one of its ministers getting his shoe laces tied by his personal security officer (PSO) in Keonjhar during Independence Day celebrations on Monday. The Cabinet minister in question, MLA Jogendra Behera, dismissed the incident saying that he was a VIP.

"My left leg is in a lot of pain, I can't bend, hence PSO volunteered to tie my shoe laces. He is like my son," said Behera on Tuesday. "Infact, I have been consulting a doctor in AIIMS in Delhi, I can show you prescriptions." 

Behera was in Keonjhar, the district headquarters town of Kendujhar district, for the Independence Day celebrations. He hoisted the flag in the town, after which his PSO is seen bending down, while Behera stands to tie his shoe straps. The PSO reportedly tied and untied the shoe straps of the minister. 

"I am a VIP. I have hoisted the flag, he (PSO) has not done it," Behera, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member told reporters after the incident was aired on local channels on Monday. He had also said that he had a knee problem and the PSO was helping him out. 

The colleagues of the PSO resented the minister for forcing their colleague to tie his shoe laces. 

"What is wrong if the security guard who has been entrusted to look after me ties my shoe laces?" the minister told Asian Age. 

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises minister received flak for making a government employee tie his shoes for him. 

"There is no distinction between government staff and personal staff in the Naveen Patnaik administration. The ministers think...Odisha is their fiefdom," said Odisha BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma. He called it a "shameful incident." 

"A government employee tying shoelaces of the minister shows existence of British rulers' mindset in Odisha," Prahallad Singh, an advocate, told the Press Trust of India. 

In another related incident of abuse of power, a policeman in Lucknow was caught on camera getting his foot massaged by a complainant. In May 2015, a West Bengal minister, Rachhpal Singh was caught on camera having his shoe laces tied by his PSO.