Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had arrived as a rising star in the national political firmament, leading the Samajwadi Party to a stupendous victory in state assembly polls this year. The tech-savvy neta was credited with scripting the party’s best poll performance ever, almost single-handedly. For the youth, he represented a way forward from the decay and corruption that had crept into the state.
Yet, the decline in Akhilesh Yadav’s public image has been equally sharp. The euphoria has left behind an average report card.
A string of flip-flops, including ordering early closure of commercial establishments to save electricity, allowing legislators to procure vehicles for personal use from development funds and the ambiguous stand on foreign direct investment has hit his image hard. The allegation of multiple power centres, both at the political and bureaucratic levels, has unmistakably led to an impression that the chief minister isn’t always calling the shots. (Click here for REPORT CARD)
Six months in office, Akhilesh has few achievements to showcase, save fulfilling the pre-poll promises of unemployment benefits, free ambulance schemes, etc. Other promises, including the free laptop/tablet scheme, the Kanya Vidya Dhan for the poor girl child and an agricultural debt waiver are pending. Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has, on a number of occasions, expressed concern on the functioning of some ministers and the slow progress of work. So far, the government had said it was taking stock of the situation and preparing new policies for key sectors. However, six months on, this doesn’t hold ground any more.
Since taking charge as chief minister on March 15, the only substantial achievement has been bringing out a new industrial and infrastructure policy. Individual departments would now have to issue government orders based on this policy. Policies in various departments, including agriculture, tourism and power, are still in the making. A dispensation that targets 10 per cent growth during the 12th Plan has to be moved faster; a populist face alone wouldn’t help.
After coming to power, the government had claimed the “real change” would be visible on the ground after six months. But facts belie the statement. There has been no perceptible change on the industrial, power, law and order and administrative fronts. In fact, there are allegations that corruption at lower levels has increased under the Akhilesh Yadav government. Instances of petty crimes, too, have increased.
Abhishek Mishra, state minister of protocol and a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav, said development was a journey, not a destination, and the government was on the right track. It was sensitive to the needs of the people and was working towards fulfilling its promises and ensuring faster development, he added. On the new industrial policy and fresh investments, he said the industry awaited an eco-system before taking investment decisions. “Very soon, the real change would be visible on the ground in UP,” he said.
“Six months have gone and we are still hoping for things to turn around on the industrial front in UP. We believe the intentions of the chief minister are good, but the government machinery and the lower level bureaucracy are still not delivering the goods,” Indian Industries Association executive director D S Verma told Business Standard. He added the government had not been able to fine-tune operational mechanisms of the Udyog Bandhu (industry-government interaction) and single-window clearance schemes.
Industry had hoped the change of guard would usher in reforms and lead to implementation of the economic agenda in a time-bound manner. Though industry captains, including Adi Godrej, Shiv Nadar, Bill Gates, Malvinder Mohan Singh, Lalit Khaitan and A M Naik, have met Akhilesh Yadav, big-ticket investments are yet to be seen.
The proposed information technology park project in Lucknow attracted lukewarm response from companies, and the government had to extend its bidding date. The power situation in the state has worsened. “The industry has faced a power crisis for two months during May-June and later, due to the grid failures,” Verma said.