Akhilesh Yadav: A Chief Minister fighting his father's shadow

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 12, 2014 00:24 hrs

Lucknow: Shaken by the Lok Sabha election rout, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav seems to be finally trying to come out of the shadows of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Almost 30 months after he stormed to power with a brute majority in the state, senior bureaucrats say they are beginning to see welcome changes in the young chief minister. The younger Yadav, it appears, is trying to bring some order to governance in India's most populous state.

Officials speaking on the condition of anonymity say that after the Lok Sabha disaster, the chief minister has become more attentive and was giving a fresh impetus to the development mantra.

"He went into a sulk after dissenting voices (in the Samajwadi Party) blamed him for the Lok Sabha rout. He has now gathered the pieces and is in command," said a close aide to IANS, requesting anonymity while speaking.

In the past month, Akhilesh Yadav has presided over long and what officials describe as meaningful and decisive meetings.

He has begun to fix deadlines for completion of projects in the power and infrastructure sectors, at times dishing out stern warnings to lax officials.

The state government is setting up a social network command centre where Twitter handles for important departments, including the chief minister's office, is being established for interaction with the people.

"He may deny it, but he has been bitten by (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi's successful social networking," says a senior official at the state information and public relations wing.

Informed sources say he is also trying to wriggle out of the firm clasp of his father and party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav over the bureaucracy and decision making.

Easing out Jawed Usmani as chief secretary and selecting incumbent Alok Ranjan was Akhilesh Yadav's decision, an aide told IANS. Ranjan is widely seen as a more pragmatic officer. Usmani was Mulayam Singh Yadav's pick.

The Samajwadi Party won only five of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh this year. Two of the seats were won by Mulayam Singh Yadav, thus effectively giving his party just four seats in the 545-member house.

Akhilesh Yadav then went on the offensive.

The wings of the all-powerful Anita Singh, close aide of Mulayam Singh Yadav and principal secretary in the chief minister's office, were clipped and a seasoned bureaucrat, Rakesh Bahadur, was brought in.

Akhilesh Yadav also packed his office with young "doer" officers.

The cabinet has cleared far-reaching proposals on sexual harassment in offices. It has also waived off registration fees for IT giant Infosys, which will soon set up a campus in Noida.

Warnings have been issued to absentee officials in various districts. The chief minister himself checks telephonically their whereabouts.

But poor law and order and growing incidents of crimes against women and communal clashes persist.

Says BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak: "By simply pointing fingers at opposition parties and blaming predecessors is not enough. Akhilesh has failed miserably on all fronts."

Nasemuddin Siddiqui, a senior BSP leader, says the Akhilesh government has squandered the mandate of the people.

Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi voices disappointment over the government's failure to check communal passions.

But Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary defends the chief minister. "Opposition parties are rattled at the manner the chief minister is working 24x7 for the welfare of the people," Chowdhary told IANS.

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