Even as the Samajwadi Party (SP) has had a fairly smooth ride in the first 100 days of its government, led by the young Akhilesh Yadav, the track ahead for the cycle (the party’s election symbol is bicycle) is set to get tougher and rougher.
The euphoria of a 38-year-old leader taking over the reins of the state is over. The new regime, which started on March 15, now has the burden of high expectations and tall poll promises to keep.
With the state urban bodies poll and the budget session under way, the government needs to move quickly thereafter to show ‘real work’, as against rhetoric and public posturing. Already, it has affected 2,500-odd transfers across cadres, including the IAS and IPS.
Thus far, the government has proclaimed that it had been taking stock of the situation in various departments and preparing new policies in all key sectors.
The dispensation experienced its first thorn in the form of a power crisis, with peak-hour demand flanking 12,000 Mw and the availability hovering at 9,000-10,000 Mw. This had prompted the government to issue a diktat mandating commercial establishments to close early last week. However, buckling under pressure, the state revoked the order within 24 hours. Even so, the crisis is far from over. Even urban centres, including the state capital of Lucknow, are facing rostering, save the ‘VIP areas’ of Etawah and Kannauj, pocket boroughs of the ruling SP.
The state has given time till December 2013 to private companies which had signed memoranda of understanding with the previous Mayawati government to secure coal linkages to their proposed thermal power plants. The total proposed generation capacity is 10,000 Mw at an investment of around Rs 50,000 crore.
In the education sector, the government has promised to give tablets/laptops to students passing standard X/XII, with about Rs 2,800 crore kept aside in the budget for the purpose. The tendering process is yet to start.
For the dole of Rs 1,000 per month to unemployed candidates between the ages of 30 and 40, the government has provisioned Rs 1,100 crore for this year. The actual payouts have yet to begin.
The government had promised waiver of agricultural loans up to Rs 50,000, but the modalities are yet to be finalised and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development wants clarity on the issue.
The law and order situation continues to be grim, with the Opposition alleging increase in the crime since the SP came to power. In some instances, even policemen had been manhandled by persons owing allegiance to the ruling party. However, the SP had also expelled several party members on disciplinary grounds.
The state is in the process of giving final shape to the new information technology (IT) and industrial policy as UP, is targeting growing by 10 per cent during the 12th Plan. Several socioeconomic schemes aimed at the amelioration of minorities and deprived sections are in the offing. Yet, their implementation remains to be seen.
While concrete results would take time to show on the ground, the new regime is being watched with optimism by industry, which explains the trickle of top businessmen to Lucknow to meet Yadav. Notable among them are Adi Godrej, Shiv Nadar, Bill Gates and Malvinder Mohan Singh.
The state has already expressed its intent to engage the private sector and to encourage the public-private partnership model for speedier economic growth.
The government is yet to take definite steps on its promise to bringing to book those involved in alleged corruption during the Mayawati regime. The general perception has been that the state is now moving slow on this promise, while the SP had promised that even Mayawati would face the heat over the extravagance on monuments and parks and the sale of sugar mills.
With the 2014 general election less than two years away and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav wanting to let his son settle in the mantle with a ‘friendly’ regime at the Centre, the fear of politicking taking over governance is clear and present. If this happens, the biggest loser would be UP and its people, which have been watching with envy some neighbouring states, who have stolen the march over the continent-sized state, home to over 200 million.