Is Akhilesh actually in command or is it father Mulayam by proxy? That is the million dollar question doing rounds in Lucknow, 24 hours after the euphoria over Akhilesh Yadav's installation as the youngest ever chief minister of the country's most populous state began to fade away.
The 38-year-old son of Samajwadi Party chieftain Mulayam Singh Yadav did occupy the chair of chief minister on Thursday, but the 47-member council of ministers, purported to have been appointed by him, clearly remains his father's baby.
It was not just the average age of 50 years that indicates only rare inclusion of the youth in the new ministry but also their antecedents which reflects that the father continues to call the shots while the son has very little room to play.
The common feeling is that if Akhilesh had his way, his ministry would not have witnessed the inclusion of nearly two dozen persons with criminal and corrupt antecedents.
According to a study carried out by Association of Democratic Reforms, at least five members of Akhilesh's council of ministers were facing charges of murder, a dozen facing charges of attempt to murder, three allegedly involved in rape cases, besides half a dozen involved in petty unlawful activity invariably associated with most politicians.
While Akhilesh was justified in claiming that bulk of the 45 criminal cases against Raghuraj Pratap Singh -- better known as Raja Bhaiya -- were registered during the Mayawati regime, he remained silent on the alleged involvement of many others in heinous crimes.
Of these, Om Prakash Singh tops the list with as many as 29 criminal cases, followed by Mehboob Ali with 28 cases including murder, attempt to kidnapping, loot, criminal conspiracy, besides provisions under the Goonda Act and Gangsters Act.
Significantly, Mulayam' s younger brother Shivpal Yadav was facing nine criminal cases including kidnapping, dacoity, fraud, embezzlement as well as a case of attempt to murder. He was also known as the kingpin of the police recruitment scam exposed during the Mayawati regime.
Azam Khan, the senior most and vociferous member of Akhilesh's cabinet was also accused in 13 cases, which also includes a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Yet another old SP hand, Balram Yadav, was a key accused in the multi-crore Ayurved scam during Mulayam's last regime and had also been involved in the multi-billion food scam.
Para Ram Pandey, who was ill-reputed as among the most corrupt of SP legislators, was also given a cabinet berth , essentially because of his proximity to Raja Bhaiya, who was also believed to have played a major role in the induction of at least four other ministers.
Just as in the case of ministers, so with bureaucrats, controversies and involvement in corrupt activities has been given a go-by in the selection of a new team for Akhilesh. And what appears more than blatantly visible was the total dominance of Mulayam in handpicking the key officials.
Evidently, it may not be any mean task for a young and promising Akhilesh to bring about any visible change in the quality of governance, when he is armed only with an administrative set-up crafted by his father, who will apparently be free to do the back-seat driving.