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Millennium Post

Youth power in Uttar Pradesh

The recent elections to State Assembly in Uttar Pradesh saw the emergence of Akhilesh Yadav. After an unceremonial exit of Amar Singh from the Samajwadi Party and the falling health of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh began calling the shots in Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh, who once depended on Amar Singh, now became dependent on his son who re-invented the party’s vision and changed its image. He under-took several yatras and almost single-handedly campaigned across the
state. He selected most candidates and even took difficult decisions of removing influential dons.

Scion of the Gandhi family Rahul at the same time campaigned for the sagging Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul’s relentless exertions were the fulcrum for the unenthusiastic party workers who have been out of power for almost two-and-a-half decades. Rahul’s charisma failed to translate the large crowds who came to see the Yuvraj of the Congress Party into votes when it mattered the most. The Congress was drubbed at the hustling and their bête noire Akhilesh emerged as the new youth icon at the national political spectrum.

The sequence of events that unfurled after the thumping win of the Samajwadi Party is now a part of history. Akhilesh was crowned as the new prince of the Indian politics and was administered the oath of office and secrecy as chief minister of the largest state in India.

The state has always been infamous for the rampant corruption and wide spread lawlessness. The writ of the government is superseded by the might of the mafia who rules the roost at Lucknow. Akhilesh, straightaway, on assuming the new role avowed that the new government shall not endure any disorder and anyone found in defiance of the law shall be dealt strictly in accordance with law irrespective of how high he or she may be placed.

The entire nation and in particular people of the state who had been living in a state of anarchy and despondency over the last couple of years under the rule of both Mayawati and Mulayam looked up with hope and aspiration. With India strongly marching forward into the 21st century and assuming the role of unquestionable leader in the field of telecom and information technology in the world, the promise by Akhilesh to provide laptops to students was the first positive step in the right direction.

What followed the swearing in ceremony of the youngest chief minister of the largest state in India was in dichotomy to what he promised, but worse in conformity with the reputation and past precedent of the party’s conduct when it last came to power. MLA’s with criminal record being sworn in as ministers cannot be passed as any political compulsion, as the party has been given a clear mandate by the people of the state to provide an able and a transparent government to weed out sleaze and nepotism in the state which has hardly seen any industrial or service sector growth over the last couple of decades.  A mandate by the people to youth and development symbolises the aspiration and dreams of the electorate in Uttar Pradesh.

The recent shoot-out incident at Gorakhpur in broad daylight again portrays the state administration in poor light, which became a hot topic of discussion at prominent national news channel at dinner time. These incidents do take place in Gurgaon, the Millennium City and burroughs of the national capital. But there is absolutely no defense of such untoward incidents. However, the performance of the young chief minister cannot be judged on the basis of this incident since he has been in office for less than two months.

Akhilesh has a huge task ahead of him. On one hand he has to live up to the faith and trust reposed in him by the electorate of the state, on the other hand he has to tackle the challenges and opposition thrown by the strong lobby in his own party which has been sidelined and marginalised for the time being. There is speculation within and outside the party that Netaji is still doing the backseat driving and Akhilesh is only a puppet at the helm of the affairs.

How true this is, still remains uncertain. Sooner or later he needs to dispel the cloud of ambiguity not by words but by a demonstration that he is in complete control of the affairs of the state. He is at a defining moment in history. If he can provide an able and a clean government, which is the right of the people of the state, denied to them during the last couple of decades, he will emerge as a national hero.

The stage is set, the ball is in his court, and history is in the waiting. Time will tell whether Akhilesh will go down in history as yet another chief minister of the most populous state of India or whether he will write a new chapter in the future of Indian politics.

Vikas Gupta is an advocate based in New Delhi.
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