The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has taken steps to show people of the state the difference between him and his predecessor Mayawati. Sharat Pradhan reports
In an obvious bid to send a strong message that he means business and to let everyone know that he believes in the old dictum -- charity begins at home - Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered a major cut in his own security as well as certain other privileges availed by his predecessor, Mayawati.
With effect from Friday, the state's youngest chief minister has started moving in a motorcade with just 10 vehicles, as against 34 used by Mayawati.
Akhilesh has also done away with the erstwhile feudal practice of having at least a dozen top officials of the state escort the chief minister right up to the airport every time she was leaving the state capital or arriving in the city from outside. "Why should I be wasting the time of these officials only in receiving me or seeing me off," said Akhilesh Yadav while issuing instructions for this change in protocol.
The officials who had been duty-bound to escort the chief minister during Mayawati's regime included the cabinet secretary, chief secretary, home secretary, director general of police, all principal secretaries and secretaries in the chief minister's office, besides the divisional commissioner, district magistrate, DIG Police, municipal commissioner plus a host of other local officials.
What will also come to an end is the curfew-like situation that used to prevail on the streets whenever the former chief minister stepped out of her residence. Akhilesh's message was pretty loud and clear "don't disturb normal life of citizens."
Apart from throwing open the Kalidass Marg to common people, who could not step on it during the five-year rule of Mayawati, Akhilesh has also scaled down the massive security cover in and around the chief minister's official residence on this road.
While his gesture to revive the erstwhile 'janata durbars' has once again given the man on the street an opportunity to take his grievance directly to the chief minister, what came as a pleasant surprise even to his security personnel was his sudden visit to one of the security towers at the extreme corner of the residence. Not used to any VIP climbing atop the tower, the man on duty was dumbfounded to find the new chief minister standing next to him and inquiring about his well-being early Friday morning.
"I had never imagined that the chief minister would personally come up to find out if we had any problem; it was incredible," exclaimed a security official.
"The initiatives taken by the chief minister to scale down his own security speaks volumes of how the chief minister sincerely believes in true democratic and socialist values. He believes in being as close as possible to the common man," said Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.
Meanwhile, the administration has also pulled out some 450 home guards attached by the previous government towards the security of not the chief minister's residence but also at various monuments and statues created by Mayawati. "That has been done only in view of the fact that there was already a full-fledged security outfit raised by the previous government to look after the security of the new monuments and statues," confirmed a senior district official.