UP In The Glare

<br>ABIJIT SHARMA

March 20, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No. -17 Mar. 16-2012 (Chaitra 03, 2068)<BR>

Forget dirty politics and corrupt politicians of Uttar Pradesh (UP). It’s all about young Akhilesh now.


The Yadav scion, who led his Samajwadi Party (SP) to a thumping victory in the state elections, is all set to be sworn in as the youngest Chief Minister (CM) of the largest and often referred to as the ‘unruliest’ state of India.


Ever since SP’s victory, the young Yadav has been the centre of all talks. Although he became prominent in UP politics only in 2009 through demonstrations for the resumption of student level elections in the state, the environmental engineering graduate from the University of Sydney had entered formal politics nine years back, in 2000, after winning the Lok Sabha elections from Kannauj district. Often spotted with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav during political and party meetings earlier, he largely remained under the senior Yadav’s shadow and other veterans. The turning point however came in the recent campaign which he successfully spearheaded to ultimately lead the party back to power. The rest, as they say, is about to be history for Akhilesh.


Hopes are riding high on the 38-year-old, more so, as he has been paved the way by seniors in the party to lead the populous state for the next four years. Given his charismatic skills seen during the campaign, future might appear bright. But Akhilesh has a mammoth task ahead. 


An image makeover of SP would be one of the foremost jobs for the young lad. Ever since its foundation 20 years ago, SP has gained notoriety for largely being a party of goons. Its earlier tenure that ended five years ago was marred by lawlessness, high rate of crime and goonda raj. Times have changed and the educated mass of the new aspiring India would not tolerate such nuisance in the state’s politics  anymore. Thus, Yadav has his work cut out: rid the party of all the negative elements and offer a transformed Samajwadi Party. If his initial steps are anything to go by, the young leader seems quite determined to do so. His denial of entry to feared goon and former minister DP Yadav, a trusted Mulayam man, back into the SP fold sent quite a positive signal. His decision to suspend party secretary Rajeev Rai, who had violated the party rule by speaking without authority, showed that Akhilesh is in no mood to tolerate lawlessness even inside the party. A pure cleansing of the party, whose image had taken a serious beating in the past, will take a lot of time and that will be the real challenge for the amateur chief minister.


Not only his party,  the new leader is also expected to give a new face to the state. Lawlessness, poverty and corruption are some of the serious problems facing Uttar Pradesh. Quite like its neighboring state, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh has for long been a breeding ground for mafias and their criminal activities. Under-development has been a major problem. High population growth has also been a matter of major concern. Not to forget, its poor governance. 


Thanks to the now-ousted chief minister Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), UP sank to a new low in the last four years.  As Bihar found a savior in Nitish Kumar, Akhilesh is expected to be the knight in shining amour for UP. First on his priority list would be to restore the rule of law in the state. He needs to act on his promise of providing ‘sadak, bijli and paani’ (road, electricity and water) to every village in the state. Although good economic growth was recorded during BSP’s rule, Yadav needs to ensure that UP climbs up the development ladder and that growth is limited not only to cities but reaches all corners. One issue he will have to deal with great strategic concern is the farmer suicide case, one of the gravest problems to emerge in the past few years.


A political novice, the young leader’s way ahead is topsy-turvy.  He will have to rely greatly on his father for many of his political moves. A comparison with arch-rival Rahul Gandhi is expected to mount further pressure. Akhilesh also needs to prove the pundits wrong who claim that SP’s victory owes to BSP’s frustrating rule in the last for years and not to the ‘successful campaigning’ and its strong manifesto. Modern and tech-savvy, the people of the state have placed a huge confidence in this new-age leader.

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