Akhilesh Yadav has been accused of mishandling the Muzaffarnagar situation because of his inexperience. His father Mulayam Singh Yadav rushing in added more fuel to those charges. His father’s shadow has always hung over Akhilesh. In a new biography of the UP chief Minister, ‘Akhilesh Yadav: Winds of Change’ (Tranquebar), Sunita Aron discusses this very dilemna. Here is an excerpt from the book…
Despite an unprecedented mandate, Akhilesh Yadav remains severely caught in the generational cleft and even if the accusation of being orchestrated by a “Yadav remote control” can be set aside for a while, what is most worrisome is the provincial mindset displayed by the old guard which is at complete variance with what Akhilesh and his team had projected during their campaign. On his own, Akhilesh struggles to find a fine balance. While talking about the creation of IT City and IT Parks, he also keeps an eye out for farmers and doles out free electricity; when he encourages Bollywood stars to come to Uttar Pradesh for shooting their films, the old guard goes into a huddle lamenting over the fact that their socialism is being compromised by the rich and the famous.
Six months into his job, Akhilesh had to often refute charges about his father running the Government by remote control and had once displayed his desperation by saying, ‘He has always given me total freedom to take my own decisions and would never interfere till I don’t do anything drastically wrong. Just because I am surrounded by people who have been associates of Netaji, doesn’t in any way mean they are running the show!’
Soon there were reports about how Akhilesh had initiated steps to correct his image of being a mere rubberstamp of a Chief Minister and according to insiders had begun arguing his viewpoint at cabinet meetings. However his detractors continued with the vilification campaign and like the former BSP Minister, and an acolyte of Mayawati, Naseemuddin Siddiqui had once said, ‘The Chief Minister is a subject of sympathy. What can he do when his own Ministers and officers don’t listen to him? It is his uncle Shivpal Singh who calls the shots at cabinet meetings while Akhilesh remains a mere spectator.’
For instance, in October 2012, Akhilesh had not only readily accepted the resignation of the then Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation, Vinod Kumar Singh after he was accused of abducting the Chief Medical Officer of Gonda, SP Singh, he had actually pushed for his exit despite the fact that the Minister was part of the old guard. Second, when an IAS officer was charged with an attempt to molest a woman on board Lucknow Mail, Akhilesh had lost no time in suspending the official although there were murmurs that the IAS officer had mobilised enough support for his case from some influential members of the Samajwadi Party. When Akhilesh had pursued with his choice of appointing Javed Usmani as the State’s Chief Secretary there was an all round criticism that he was openly pandering to the minorities. The fact that Usmani is an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and an MSc in Social Planning from the London School of Economics, was totally eclipsed in the debate.
At a glance, the above instances can only serve as an apology for a young Chief Minister who in his initial months was seen to be presiding over a defiant cabinet. I had once asked Akhilesh if his young age had proved to be a disadvantage in dealing with the day to day complexities of governance and he had said, ‘Maybe for a lot of people to be young means to be inexperienced. But to be young could also mean more energy and enthusiasm, a capacity to work harder. When I had wanted to undertake the cycle yatra, there were people who were against it. But I insisted as I thought while I am young, I could do it. It could get difficult later! The same goes for governance. I may not be perfect, rather far from it, but I know I will achieve what I had set out to do and at the end of the day, I remain committed and answerable only to the people of Uttar Pradesh.’
Senior journalist and now Editorial Advisor to the ‘Outlook’ magazine, Vinod Mehta had once suggested on a TV show that Akhilesh Yadav should be given a couple of months before initiating a post-mortem. One of his staunch supporters in the party, Prof Ram Gopal had once come out in his nephew’s defence and hitting out openly at Akhilesh’s detractors in the Council of Ministers, who routinely questioned his inability to administer the State, had said, ‘When Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister of the country for the first time, people gave her several names, including goongi gudiya (mute doll). What happened? When she started being assertive, her decisions and actions changed the destiny of the country. Here in our State, some party leaders are undermining the position of the Chief Minister by calling Akhilesh a ladka (a boy). They should not forget that this ladka can change overnight and become very tough.’
It is obvious that the only way in which the beleaguered Chief Minister can prove his authority is by coming up with his own vision for development and also display tact and tenacity. I would like to quote what Akhilesh had once told my colleague, Varghese George of the ‘Hindustan Times’ during his campaign: ‘People ask me, kiski chalti hai… Netaji ki ya phir Akhilesh ki? (Whose writ runs large? Netaji’s or Akhilesh’s?) I tell them it is Netaji’s.’ But then added a twist to this oft-repeated adage in the Samajwadi Party: ‘Next time, you should tell them Netaji ki chalti hai, lekin Netaji Akhilesh ki sunte hain’ (Netaji’s writ of course runs large, but Netaji only listens to Akhilesh.)
– Firstpost — Courtesy Tranquebar.
Probe By UP Government
Hand Of Politicians Behind Muzaffarnagar Riots?
The Uttar Pradesh Government is probing the role of politicians in sectarian violence that left more than 30 people dead in Muzaffarnagar recently. “We are collecting proof of their role in inciting mobs, mobilising the crowds for the Maha Panchayat which later triggered the violence,” a Home Department official said. The Government has also asked the cyber unit of the state police to trace the “provocative and fake” video clips uploaded on YouTube, which apparently further aggravated the situation.
Mulayam Singh sees a hand of “some political elements” behind the communal violence. A senior aide of the Chief Minister said that while heads are rolling for administrative failure at our level, the political class involved in the violence cannot be glossed over. One inspector, a deputy inspector general of police (DIG), an inspector general of police (IG) and the commissioner of Meerut were given marching orders. Cases were slapped on senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress leaders. The police have accused many political leaders of inciting mobs against communities and provoking violence.
A senior police official said that first information reports (FIRs) against four BJP legislators – Hukum Singh, Bhartendu, Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana – along with Congress MP Harendra Malik were lodged for violating prohibitory orders. Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office said that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had also sought media reports, photographs, local intelligence low-down on political adversaries who were present during the Maha Panchayat at Muzaffarnagar Saturday.
Akhilesh Yadav was looking to find from the leaders of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in western UP about the ground situation, said officials. A miffed Akhilesh has also summoned Director General of Police Devraj Nagar, on why despite intelligence inputs the situation was mishandled and allowed to spin out of control. ADG (Law and Order) Arun Kumar said cases have been registered against 1,000 unidentified people and against 90 who have been named.
The crackdown on politicians, sources say, is also being undertaken at the behest of Mulayam Singh Yadav who sees a hand of “some political elements” behind the communal violence. “We have been saying all through that efforts are being done to vitiate and polarise the State on communal lines and our worst fears are now coming true,” a senior UP Minister said. The Minister admitted that the riots had put the State Government in the dock. BJP leader Vinay Katiyar too criticised the State Government for trying to give a political hue to the riots, saying the father-son duo of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh were better advised to improve the functioning of their officials rather than going on a witch hunt.