Akhilesh gets quietly to 100
By Subhash mishra - LUCKNOW
Published: 24th Jun 2012 11:03:17 AM
No festivities have been planned to celebrate the completion of 100 days by the office of Akhilesh Yadav, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Even his official residence at 5, Kalidas Road remained deserted on June 22. The mood in the government and the Samajwadi Party headquarters, on Vikramaditya Road, was glum. It may be a reflection of Akhilesh’s mood, as his honeymoon period draws to a close with the party’s Achilles Heel—law and order—spiralling out of control in the state.
For his part, Akhilesh did start his debut inning impressively, first shedding his multi-layered security cover to create an image of an accessible CM, then throwing open the gates of his residence to meet the public in his ‘Janata Darbar’. He did appear to be a people’s CM for a while, in contrast to the reclusive Mayawati, who put up barriers all around her residence during her tenure. He also tried to bring in fresh air in his functioning.
But slowly, he lost focus, unable to move beyond the ornamental changes to address core governance issues, that of BSP (Bijli, Sadak, Paani) and law and order. With his ministers running amok, and workers indulging in browbeating rivals, Akhilesh failed miserably to establish his “iqbal” (impact and fear) across UP.
But the first-time CM is probably not to be blamed solely for this miasma. “Akhilesh Yadav is just a face of the SP government. The remote control is still in the hands of his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh. The Yadav scion is thus unable to take bold and harsh steps,” explained BJP MLC Hridaya Narain Dixit, adding that he hasn’t as yet, managed to come out of the shadow of his father.
Dixit’s assessment is not exaggerated. From the very first day of his assuming office on March 15, Akhilesh’s ministry was dominated by loyalists of Yadav Sr. Even bureaucrats were not left to his choice. Akhilesh failed to enthuse any freshness or vibrancy in the government, having to carry tainted and criminal elements in his ministry, as well as the deadwood of the bureaucracy. Most officers put in key positions don’t having impeccable track records, neither are they known to be tough administrators. Ministers like Rajaram Pandey defied the youthful CM and blamed his own government for lethargy and insensitivity to the problems of citizens. Senior ministers like Mohammad Azam Khan rebelled against him by nominating a Samajwadi Party leader earlier dismissed by him, in the Haj committee.
The government also floundered on other issues. First, it ordered a moratorium on power supply after 7 pm to malls and markets, then, amidst engulfing protests, withdrew it. Mathura witnessed communal riots—the situation is still tense three weeks later. There were sectarian clashes between Shias and Sunnis in Lucknow. Meerut is still tense. On power, Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh convened a meeting of senior UP officers that Akhilesh attended—not a very assertive action on the part of the CM.
Slowly but surely, the CM’s authority was fading. A state police superintendent hit the headlines for apparently advocating honour killing, when he told a young man, whose sister had been missing for 15 days, to “not tolerate this and shoot her down”. Akhilesh took four days just to transfer him. Needless to say, no action was taken against him. One by one, the Yadav prince was losing opportunities to impose his will on government officers.
On corruption, too, the SP government’s actions have been akin to firing empty bullets in the air. It approved the excise policy of the previous government, and gave consent to power sector-MOUs signed by them, after having blamed the Mayawati government for making money on the same. It is yet to order a judicial commission, as promised, to probe alleged scandals and financial irregularities of the previous government. Curiously enough, it is also dithering to implement its stated intent of “demolishing statues of Mayawati and Kanshi Ram” in the city to develop hospitals on the vacated land of the parks and monuments that house the statues.
With nearly 2,500 transfers of bureaucrats in last three months, UP’s infamous transfer industry is meanwhile in full swing. The government failed to appoint a chairman and CEO for Noida and Greater Noida—supposedly the windows to the state, till after 40 days in power, having promised immediate action in the poll manifesto.
Putting up a nonchalant defense, party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary claimed the Akhilesh government had been extremely successful, and that the roadmap to prosperity and development has been laid. When UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi described the 100-day performance of the government as “unsatisfactory”, it therefore did not appear as usual opposition hyperbole. Even when the SP government presented its budget for 2012-13, the focus was on the possibility of the Centre’s special bailout package, rather than implementation of pre-poll promises that entailed a huge financial burden, with the CM chosing to avoid imposing any fresh tax. The only clear success for the SP has been on the political front, having befriended the Congress, even though this entailed betraying friends and allies. This resulted in an unopposed victory for Dimple Yadav in the Kannauj parliamentary constituency by-election.
The SP is looking forward to a repeat of 2012 in 2014. But for that, Akhilesh will have to start by reviewing his current performance.