Mulayam Singh Yadav has been a big gun in the Samajwadi Party for a very long time now. An ex-Chief Minister and one of the most important politicians in not only Uttar Pradesh but also India, Mulayam Singh Yadav brought his son Akhilesh Yadav into politics when the boy was still in his 20s. Though Akhilesh credits janeshwar Mishra for initiating him into politics, fact is that it is his father’s presence that did the trick. He is one of the “Shehzada” brigade of the country.
Akhilesh was first elected in a by-election in 2000 but has managed to get elected from the same seat in two subsequent general elections. He became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in March 2012. Amongst the first things that the environmental engineer-turned-Chief Minister did was to stop and/or reverse most of his predecessor, Mayawati’s schemes and undertakings and appointments. He sent a strong message of high-handed dictatorial tendencies right at the start of his incumbency.
Akhilesh got a wonderful world platform in 2013, the year of the Mahakumbh Mela in Allahabad. The Kumbh Mela comes once every four years in different places. It happens in Allahabad once every 12 years. The 12th one in Allahabad is called Mahakumbh – that leans it comes around once in 144 years and is considered super-extremely special. The Kumbh Mela signifies faith for millions of Hindus and is the ultimate stage of everything imagined as “Exotic India” to foreigners. It attracts domestic and international travellers like no other event. This year, hundreds of scholars from Ivy League institutes (such as Harvard) descended on Allahabad to study and understand this singular pop-up town that bloats almost 100 times in a matter of days. It is the only recorded regularly-occurring event in the world where so many millions of people gather in one place peacefully. To Akhilesh’s credit, the administration of Allahabad did a splendid job of ensuring peace during this highly charged time. He was invited to Harvard to discuss the same after the end of the mela. This whole exposure cast the Akhilesh government in a positive light which was short-lived.
The early dictatorial tendencies came into full play during the entire Durga Shakti Nagpal drama and the 41-mintue boast. Digging their collective feet in the mud, the UP politicians refused to pay heed to the country’s outrage at the unfair and unjust dismissal of the IAS officer.
This was followed by the Muzzafarnagar communal riots which further damaged the image of UP. Additionally, almost every week there are horrifying cases of child abuse and/or rapes being report out of UP that does nothing for building any trust and belief in the government and governance.
The way things have panned out so far are more than a little disappointing for a country hoping that younger politicians would mean cleaner politics, better governance, more transparency and a safer country. Alas! Though Akhilesh is just 40 (birth date July 1, 1973), UP under him hasn’t improved in any dramatic way. To be fair, he has been in the role of Chief Minister for just about a little over one-and-a-half years and may yet prove to be better than the quickly dwindling expectations portray him – but so far, his report card is in the negative.
By Sujata Garimella