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Rediff.com  » News » Mulayam's rap sets Akhilesh on damage control mode

Mulayam's rap sets Akhilesh on damage control mode

August 03, 2012 23:34 IST

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's reprimand of his son Akhilesh Yadav for his 'unsatisfactory' performance as Uttar Pradesh chief minister has provoked Yadav junior to pull up his socks.

Among the first few measures he has decided to take is revival of the 'janta darshan', which he had very conveniently abandoned barely a month after it was started with much fanfare.

Resumption of 'janata darshan' by Akhilesh was described as a key symbol of the "return of democracy" , essentially because the old practice had been completely given up during five years of Mayawati rule when the common man was banned from even entering Lucknow's Kalidass Marg, where lied the official residence of the chief minister.

While it was discontinued on the plea that the chief minister was required to attend the state assembly session, he did not care to resume 'janata darshan' even after the sine die adjournment of the assembly session. Insiders claimed that the decision to abandon the practice was prompted by Akhilesh's bureaucrats who found it a painful exercise to deal not only with thousands of lesser mortals but also deal with their grievances.

In fact, it was under the influence of those very mandarins that Akhilesh had reduced the frequency of the 'janta darshan' within the first fortnight of its revival. After the initial start of five times a week, it was brought down to four times, followed by once a week, and eventually once a fortnight, before it was discontinued under the pretext of the state assembly session.

While the 'janata darshan' was likely to be revived from next Wednesday, Akhilesh was also understood to be planning to throw open his doors to the media, which he had systematically kept at a distance soon after his actions evoked media criticism.

By insulating himself  both from public and media, Akhilesh  had shut his doors to inflow of feedback almost in the same manner like his predecessor Mayawati, who chose to remain in complete isolation , with total dependence on a coterie of sycophants.

Akhilesh was also keen to shed his image of a 'roll-back chief minister', which he earned after he reversed four major decisions over the recent past. These included shutting of all markets and malls by 7 pm as a measure to combat the prevailing power crisis, rewarding the state's 503 legislators with luxury cars worth Rs 20 lakh, altering the name of Gauriganj district to Amethi (Rahul Gandhi's constituency) within minutes of a call from the Congress high command as also revoking his orders to divest Urban Development Minister Azam Khan of the charge of Meerut district.

Even as he was quite insistent about honouring each of the promises made in the party's election manifesto, he had conveniently forgotten his commitment to order a high level probe into the alleged scams by Mayawati, whom both he and his father had repeatedly accused of amassing thousands of crores.

The 38-year old chief minister , who had earned the reputation of a  'soft' or 'weak'  boss, was also understood to have made up his mind to not allow himself to be ticked off by a number of his cabinet colleagues because of their proximity to his father .

In fact, not just his uncle Shivpal Yadav , who was the most powerful multiple portfolio minister , but also Urban Development Minister Azam Khan , Food Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh and even some of the lesser known ones like Khadi and Village Industries Minister Raja Ram Pandey, Panchayat Raj Minister Balram Yadav, Social Welfare Minister Awadhesh Prasad, Minor Irrigation Minister Paras Nath Yadav and Basic Education Minister am Govind Chaudhary were running their ministries like private fiefdoms or parallel power centres.

While it was not clear how he was going to bring the unbridled ministers under his leash , sources close to Akhilesh claimed that he had already taken his father's nod to impress upon all and sundry that he was in command -- something he had failed to convey in the four and a half months that he was on the seat of power.

However, what still remains a million dollar question was how he would take charge of the all important task of postings and transfers in the state bureaucracy and the police -- that was being done so far essentially by none other than his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and his own coterie of bureaucrats.

After all, ironically , much of his performance depended  on the working of those who were handpicked by his father or his father's close confidante , which included some infamous politicians as well as industrialists, who enjoyed as much clout during Mayawati's times as they were doing now.

Sharat Padhan in Lucknow