Lucknow: Akhilesh Yadav, a 38-year-old environmental engineer from Sydney, will be sworn in as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Thursday. After the announcement Saturday, the new icon of Samajwadi Party (SP) vowed to fast track development in the country's most populous state.
The 33rd chief minister, who will be the youngest to rule the sprawling state, staked his claim to form the government after meeting Governor B.L. Joshi soon after the newly elected legislators picked him for the job.
Flanked by uncle Shivpal Yadav and senior SP leader Mohd Azam Khan, both of who had been unhappy over party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's move to crown his son, a beaming Akhilesh bowed before Joshi and gave him a letter that declared him the chief minister designate.
The governor wished him well and presented him a bunch of red roses.
Emerging from the Raj Bhawan, Akhilesh Yadav, with Khan and Shivpal Yadav by his side, posed for lensmen waiting to catch a momentous event which is set to change the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier, he was elected for the chief minister's post by voice vote as Khan proposed his name and Shivpal Yadav, hitherto considered the number 2 in the SP, seconded it. The SP won a whopping 224 seats in the 403-member assembly in an election in which Akhilesh played a key role.
The decision was greeted with thunderous applause from legislators. Akhilesh Yadav, now an MP, moved towards his father, seated on a chair at the dais, and touched his feet. It was an emotional moment as three-time chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's face lit up with pride.
After his election, Akhilesh Yadav announced that his priority was to stabilise law and order in the state and to ensure that all promises made by the party -- tablets, laptops for 12th pass students and unemployment allowance -- were delivered.
"Uttar Pradesh needs to catch with other developed states," he said.
By Saturday evening, Akhilesh Yadav, close aides said, was busy with the task of government formation as he was trying to ensure a delicate balance between the old and the new.
A list of the bureaucratic reshuffle was also being detailed, informed sources told IANS.
"Good officials would be rewarded and non-performers and partisan ones would be weeded out," he said.
The sources said that young and first-term legislators were being considered for ministerial jobs. A list was being readied for the approval of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who leaves for New Delhi Sunday evening.
The tone for the coronation of Junior Yadav, a father of three (Aditi, Tina and Arjun), was set at the parliamentary Board of the Samajwadi Party which met before Holi.
Born July 1, 1973, Akhilesh is fondly called "Tipu" by his family.
Following a near rout in the 2007 polls, when Mayawati romped back with a brute majority, Mulayam Singh handed over the party reigns to Akhilesh. He was appointed the state president of SP.
Until then, Akhilesh was content being in the backseat and enjoying life like any other young man. Movies and football were his favourite pastime, and he loved riding on a specially made bicycle to be fit.
A Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) activist was meanwhile killed in a clash in Hardoi district as violence by SP activists continued in the state despite appeals and warnings by the leadership including Akhilesh.
Clashes were also reported in Pratapgarh district and in Moradabad.
Clashes and violence by SP workers have been reported from different parts of the state since Tuesday when the party stormed back to power.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)