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UP government completes 3 years in office
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | August 29, 2006 20:18 IST
Sycophancy was at its peak at the official celebrations held at Lucknow on Tuesday to mark the completion of three years of the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
Three-time Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav also set an Uttar Pradesh record for staying at the helm for the longest duration -- 72 months.
Even though the total tenure has come in three separate stints, Mulayam is the first chief minister of India's most populous state to stay that long since 1952.
Only a select few -- senior party leaders and local functionaries -- were invited for the half-day-long function organised at the party's state headquarters.
The common man, whose cause Mulayam claims to champion, had no access even to the road leading to the venue.
The state chief secretary, director general of police and some other key government officials were on the dais, rubbing shoulders with top political leaders.
Chief Secretary Naveen Chandra Bajpai, addressing the political gathering, praised the chief minister thus: "What could not be done in 30 years has been achieved by you in three years," he said, before adding, "It was entirely because of your leadership that Uttar Pradesh had now grown into Uttam Pradesh."
Even Mulayam's political subordinates were overshadowed. Among other prominent speakers were senior Samajwadi Party leaders Janeshwar Misra, Beni Prasad Verma, Mohan Singh and Amar Singh.
Later, addressing the gathering, Mulayam sought to alert his party cadre against what he termed the "devious designs of the entire opposition to oust Mulayam Singh Yadav from office."
He alleged: "Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress want me out; and their target was not just the Samajwadi Party but Mulayam Singh Yadav.
"They are in league with the Bahujan Samaj Party that hopes to make the most out of it."
Evidently, it was in this light that Mulayam urged his party men to 'sink their differences and get united to take on the challenge likely to be put up by the combined opposition'.
He also called upon the party workers to spread out in the field and ensure that various welfare measures initiated by him in 'the larger interest of the poverty-ridden masses, women, unemployed youth and other deprives sections of society', trickled down to the last beneficiary.
In reply to a question at a press conference later, he clarified that the monthly unemployment dole of Rs 500 introduced recently would be given to beneficiaries only until they attained the upper age limit for entry into government jobs.
This age limit varies between 28 and 35.
The chief minister also highlighted his latest sop -- distribution of saris to all married women in families living below the poverty line.
An allocation of Rs 250 crores (Rs 2.5 billion) was made in the supplementary budget to be taken up at the on-going session of the state assembly.
Asked what his biggest challenge after completing three years in office was, Mulayam said, "For me, the biggest challenge today is the poor and the downtrodden, the unemployed and the harassed," before signing off, " "On the contrary, the biggest challenge before all other political parties was Mulayam Singh Yadav."