As the feud within the Samajwadi Party threatens to split the party ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls in 2017, one of the standout persona in this drama who has managed to steer away from the muddle is Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
He was the young face of the Samajwadi Party in 2012 and surprised all by winning the polls and becoming the youngest chief minister at the age of 38 on 15th March, 2012. He was schooled at the Dholpur Military School in Rajasthan, then going on to obtain his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil environmental engineering at the University of Mysore. To further enhance his skills, he earned himself a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Sydney, Australia. Qualifications that made probably enabled him to have different school of thought and ideas for the future.
While driving to work, one can hear on various FM channels nowadays how the youthful CM is taking steps to improve the image of Uttar Pradesh. At first, one thought is whether it is a bit over the top or part of PR machinery at work. But the sudden rift in the Samajwadi Party has proved that Akhilesh has a rather different image. Image of a young, forward looking politician who is keen to work for the state and its development and not surrounded by sycophants and corrupt men. He was willing to call spade a spade even it was going against his own father, whom he calls Netaji.
It is aptly clear that Akhilesh wants to lead a party who can carry forward his developmental agenda. But alas, right through his tenure, his hands seemed to be tied as the old guard refused to toe his line of thinking. It affected his style of working. The old guard is loyal to his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. Whenever he did not not oblige them or snubbed them, they would seek his father’s help to get things done. The CM was, hence, sidelined. Even if he wanted to tackle corruption head on by sacking corrupt ministers like Prajapati and Shivpal, Akhilesh was forced to retract his steps after intense pressure by Mulayam Singh and his lobby. According media reports, the Chief Secretary of the state would report to Mulayam Singh Yadav, instead of Akhilesh. These sorts of arm-twisting tactics has dented Akhilesh’s image as an effective Chief Minister. And questions are been asked as to whether he was during his tenure allowed to run his government on his own way?
He was critical of the work and the wily political motives of his uncle Shivpal Yadav and made no bones about his discomfort of having in the cabinet. At the party meet in Lucknow, Akhilesh struck an emotional note and described himself as the obedient son who would never defy Mulayam. But, he would not settle for any compromise that lessens his stature. He has demanded action against perennial troublemaker Amar Singh (who was made general secretary of the party much against his wishes) and diminution of Shivpal in the party. And for that he took on none other than his own father in the bitter battle. But Akhilesh’s father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had described Amar Singh as “my brother” for saving him from going to jail for alleged corruption.
It may be recalled that Amar Singh returned to the Samajwadi Party this year after six years in exile and has been accused by Akhilesh Yadav of instigating the current crisis that has deeply divided the Yadav family that rules Uttar Pradesh.
Akhilesh’s supporters alleged that Amar Singh was helping his uncle Shivpal Yadav plot his removal so that he could be the chief minister of UP. They see Amar Singh’s hand in Shivpal Yadav being made the party’s UP chief in place of Akhilesh, an elevation that gave him direct control of choosing candidates for the UP elections. An elevation that did not go down well with the Akhilesh camp.
The bottom line of the story is Akhilesh Yadav wants a clean administration in place, but is helpless due to pressure from the Mulayam Singh lobby. Whether this public perception helps the party in the forthcoming polls in 2017 remains to be seen.