Akhikesh Yadav – How to take a huge win and then trash it ..the SP in Uttar Pradesh

No one would have predicted what happened in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, although hopeful SP party men would have dreamed about toppling the Mayawati Government and putting ‘netaji’ (Mulayam Singh Yadav) back in power. The principal national parties, the Congress and the BJP, would have been sure that they cannot jump ahead of the SP or the BSP, but would have hoped for more seats to establish that they had some authority in the largest state in the country in terms of people and seats. However, this was not to be. Mayawati was toppled, the Congress and the BJP was crushed (they did not even try to claim a creditable performance), and Mulayam Singh was triumphant in his victory. This was also surprising, since the previous SP government had been very infamous for the high levels of anarchy and lack of development, but Mayawati had not managed to cobble up the rainbow coalition that had won her the last elections, and the evident corruption also unseated her.
This time, there seemed like there would be some change. Mulayam Singh Yadav has an ambition to become the Prime Minister, and if leaders like Chandra Shekhar and Deve Gowda could become the PM because of a coalition pushing them upto the top position, why not him. After all, the Congress was not exactly in a high position, and the BJP did not look likely to have enough seats over the country to be in a position to claim power. As a part of this plan, he installed Akhilesh (his son and heir) to be the next Chief Minister of the state; this was a master stroke. Akhilesh was seen as much more tech savvy, a young leader who could listen to what the people wanted and keep the vote base behind the SP (atleast till the next round of parliamentary elections – the SP would want around 45-50 seats to be able to play a key role in power politics in a divided Parliament).
However, if a report card is to be taken now, the situation could be said to be going rapidly downhill. One of the biggest issues with the SP in the past was its inability to control law and order (both in terms of having influential and criminal leaders ruling the roost and also in terms of overall violence on the streets increasing, including crime). So, you had both Mulayama and Akhilesh making repeated statements that this time, SP workers will be more responsible, and not for them to misuse the power that they have now. But obviously, when you have people out of power in an environment where power is seen as the way to move ahead and also enrich yourself, it cannot just be statements that can solve things. However, all that the people of Uttar Pradesh have had is an increasing crisis regarding law and order and increase in crime rates. What would be even more worrisome for Mulayam and Akhilesh would be the number of communal riots that have happened. In the past, the police force and the PAC have had accusations of bias against them, and if these charges stick this time, then the SP would be in grave danger of losing a chunk of Muslim votes. Akhilesh and his administration have not been able to play an effective role in preventing and stopping riots from happening on a regular basis.

Akhilesh is also having to contend with people in the party who consider him a kid. His administration gets scolded from time to time by Mulayam Singh, and even by other ministers who consider themselves very powerful. So, you have the Muslim face of the party, Azam Khan, making controversial statements, and nobody to cut him down in terms of power (infact, the last time Akhilesh tried to reduce some of his powers, he went into a sulk and his powers had to be returned back to him). There are many others in the Government, many of them with a criminal background which were pushed onto Akhilesh by his father, and even if Akhilesh did not want them, he really does not have an option.
And of course, Akhilesh has not been able to do anything that would seemingly increase the level of growth and employment in the state. The state remains in the grip of a large power deficit due to previous inactivity, and one is not even sure whether Akhilesh is proposing to do anything about this. For the past several years, voters have been getting more aware and demanding of their rights, and at some point, even the electorate of Uttar Pradesh wil stop voting on the basis of community and caste lines, and instead vote for those who would actually do good for them (a bit cynical about whether there are actually people like that in the political system).

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