LUCKNOW: The coronation of Akhilesh Yadav as the new chief minister of the state has many firsts. It is the first time that it has taken over four days after declaration of results to decide the name of the new chief minister. It is first time that a three-time MP who is only 39 years old will assume the office of the chief minister. It will also be the first time that the chief minister will be the child of a former chief
minister. That, however, doesn’t take away from the lack of clarity in the runup to the Akhilesh nomination. When the election results were declared on March 6, mediapersons were told the same evening by the party president that a meeting of its parliamentary board would be held next day, March 7 to declare the new chief minister. Till then, Shivpal Yadav, younger brother of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had been maintaining that Yadav Senior should be the new chief minister. On the other hand, senior leader and Muslim face of the party Mohammad Azam Khan, whose differences with Yadav Junior are well known since he was snubbed by Akhilesh for favouring mafia don-turned-politician D P Yadav.
Khan refused to attend the parliamentary board meeting on March 7, which by and large remained a family affair. On that evening mediapersons were told that no name has been finalised; it would be declared at a meeting of newly elected MLAs on March 10.
Finally, on March 9, Mulayam Singh Yadav called his brothers Shivpal and Ram Gopal and told them in no uncertain terms that he wanted Akhilesh Yadav to be the new chief minister. Shivpal was asked point-blank by Mulayam to air his reservations, but all he expressed was a sense of hurt at the way some SP leaders had projected him as villain in the elevation of Akhilesh Yadav as chief minister.
Once the three brothers were on the same page, Mohammad Azam Khan, who was in Lucknow, was told to meet ‘Netaji’. Khan was told that if he was not willing to join the ministry led by Akhilesh Yadav, he could become Speaker of the Assembly. Khan said he had no objections but left without making any commitment. In the end it was Azam Khan who proposed the name of Akhilesh as the Leader of the Legislature Party at the March 10 meeting. Shivpal Yadav approved it, and Akhilesh was crowned.
When Akhilesh Yadav came out to address his first press conference as the Leader of the SP Legislature Party of the SP and chief minister designate, he was flanked by party MP Rakesh Sachan and party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary. He said that both Azam Khan and Shivpal would join his ministry.
Akhilesh’s internecine wars within the Yadavs may be over but his biggest challenge waits. He will seek to replicate his vision of as new and vibrant SP. He’s got his work cut out.