At a time when a scorching summer and power outages are crippling normal lives in Uttar Pradesh, the SP Government’s key functionaries are cooling their heels abroad.
While Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Chief Secretary Javed Usmani are touring the US, another group of ministers have left for South Africa.
Usmani’s wife is settled in the US and the Usmanis are said to have played a key role in organising Akhilesh’s programme at Harvard University, which was cancelled following the “airport humiliation” of senior minister Mohammad Azam Khan in Boston.
The delegation, which has boycotted all the programmes, is still camping in the US, though Khan has returned to India.
With the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary already out of the country and the number two in the government, Shivpal Singh Yadav, also heading for cooler climes for a week, governance will take severe beating.
All these developments come at a time when law and order remains in a quagmire and farmers are unable to sell their produce because the state-run levy centres are yet to be opened.
In a trip aimed at “attracting investment”, PWD Minister Shivpal, who is Akhilesh’s uncle also, left for South Africa along with Khan, another minister Rajendra Singh Rana and Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey.
Shivpal had earlier visited Israel and angered Muslims, one of the SP’s main vote banks, who are averse to ties with that country. He is also expected to visit the US soon.
This is the first time all the key government functionaries have been absent in the state.
Though Akhilesh is expected to come back in a day or two, his office is tight-lipped over his programme schedule in the US.
Akhilesh and his 11-member delegation had gone to Boston for marketing his successful conduct of the Maha Kumbh Mela, which didn’t materialise thanks to the Azam Khan episode.
Having initially criticised the US for frisking him, Khan later hit out at External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for “conspiring to humiliate him abroad”.
At the same time, Khan was ridiculed by his own party colleagues for making an issue out of a routine security check.