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Akhilesh Yadav's campus capers and doomed infatuation

Last updated on: March 19, 2012 10:44 IST

Akhilesh Yadav's campus capers and doomed infatuation

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Frank Huzur

The little-known but insightful story of Uttar Pradesh's youngest chief minister, Akhilesh Singh Yadav or Tipu. By his father's biographer Frank Huzur. The last of a two-part series.

Part I: Akhilesh Yadav, like you have never known him before

Rajeev Ranjan alias Chunnu, Akhilesh Yadav's close friend -- both studied engineering in Mysore -- told me, "There was not even an iota of hint whatsoever to predict the future of Akhilesh in politics. We saw him as an environment engineer in future, despite the hanging scales of heavyweight political legacy on his shoulder.

"He was firm in his resolve like a military commander. Lessons learnt on the green fields of Dholpur Military School, Rajasthan, were on full display in Mysore.

 "Never did I see him without a smile. No sign of distress even at the time of semester examinations. His ear would be muffed with the headphones of a Philips walkman, red in colour.

"What a great listener of music he was! Music and melody appeared to be his sweetest companion. As if he was in love with his Walkman music.

"Those were the days when rap and hip-hop music was making its re-appearance after the Elvis Presley and Beatles magic of 1960s and 1970s. Fusion was the new wave fad for city boys on campus."

Tipu (Akhilesh's nickname) was an Alan Gilbert in his musical taste, though. Like the legendary American violinist and music director of New York Philharmonic orchestra, Tipu fancied learning the violin, guitar and piano. Music has the power to turn the devil on the campus into a mystic philosopher. Peace and love spring from the strumming of guitar to guide the exuberant young mind.

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Image: Akhilesh Singh Yadav
Photographs: Photo courtesy of Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha

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Ragging was the rage on the campus. Tipu couldn't find pleasure in the stud-like behaviour of turning a band of junior boys on the campus into bad boys.

So repelled was he with the act of coercing and coaxing young ones that he would sacrifice the joy of music and walk up to senior mates and warn them about ragging any junior.

Tipu could only rag some of the boys about their hair-cut, size of collar, graffiti on polo T-shirts and brands of the burgeoning denim blue jeans and wristwatches.

For Tipu, the act of ragging could not move beyond tormenting his junior with crackle of jokes. In contrast to locals on the campus, he was just about a mild scolder.

His clothes were always T-shirt and jeans.  Even in the age of Adolescenza Perversa, Akhilesh was not hooked to sowing wild oats.

Mysore of 1990 was a big-ticket destination. It is at the foot of the Chamundi hills. Trekking with four close buddies, apart from Chunnu, Harvinder, a Sikh from Raipur, Chhattisgarh, Sanjay Sahu of Ranchi, Murli Manohar of Ooty, heir to a tea and coffee plantation tycoon, and Arshad, a local Mysore-wallah, he cherished the joy of singing classic Bollywood ditties sung in the silken voice of Kishore Kumar and set to the mellifluous tunes of Rahul Dev Barman by the yellow flames of a campfire during summer break. Vrindavan Gardens was also a favoured haunt.

Tipu was fascinated with hill-climbing. He would fancy climbing up and down Chamundi hills than watching the Dusserah festivities, one of the ancient rituals of burning the demon king Ravana in a blaze of fire-crackers and cacophony of celebrations.

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Photographs: Photo courtesy of Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha

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Akhilesh Yadav's campus capers and doomed infatuati

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The campus was a hotbed of politics in its own inimitable style and substance. But Tipu had least interest in the permutation and combination of victory and defeat.

The students union election was a non-event for him. It was nothing but entertainment for the young lad. Who didn't feel the pulse of bash and big-time blast of fun and frolic in it?

"Father has sent you from the north of the land to the hills of south to study, mate. No politics in Mysore!  Picnic is a better pastime," Tipu would often tell his friends.

Let it remain the local lads' blow-out. There were only 17 north Indian boys in a batch of 120 in the engineering discipline of environment, civil and other trades.

Anupam Bakery on Tonchicappal Road in Mysore was a favourite hangout in the evenings.

Boys would gather to laugh away their academic drudgery and daytime chores over snacking -- tea, coffee, flavoured milk.

The 1990s was the most formative of all years when Tipu felt a sudden surge in his spiritual resolve.

In November, he was surprised by the audacity of his father to thwart a militant attempt by kar sevaks from demolishing the Babri mosque in the temple town of Ayodhya. The Mulayam Singh government in Lucknow had grabbed the international spotlight.

It gave birth to the fire of resolve in Tipu in course of contemplation over the evolving legacy of his father's socialist, secular and constitutional politics in the larger interests of the downtrodden and deprived in caste Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist societies.

Politics was not a ball game. It was also beguilement, bewilderment, commotion, complication and disorder as much it was recreation and preoccupation.

There was the Hindi-heartland of India on fire and one man was fighting to douse the fires.

And, here was a son who was struggling to regale his distracting displeasures with the carnival of campus life.

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Photographs: Photo courtesy of Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha

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Akhilesh Yadav's campus capers and doomed infatuation

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The gender balance was heavily tilted against the fair sex. Only 20 per cent of all future engineers in campus were girls. Akhilesh couldn't fall in full throttle love with any of the beauties. However, he did have a mushy feeling of infatuation with one local beauty.

Before he could slide down the street of captivity in love, the feelings of belonging to her heart fizzled out. It was a short-lived romance in the silence of the deep recesses of his heart. It couldn't blossom.

The cultural fest on the campus at the end of the year brought in a good deal of celebration, a gala joining of boys and girls in fun and sport. The annual jamboree was called Jayciana.

The most enticing treat of the carnival was crowning of the Rose Queen. There was a tradition of presenting roses to the contesting girls.

Every girl dreamt of winning the title of Rose Queen. The starry-eyed beauty who could attract the highest number of roses in her lap was crowned rose queen.

Chunnu smiles while narrating the tale of silent romance in a bachelor heart.

Tipu was cheering on a college girl among the contestants to win. Each boy had his choice of quota of the bouquet of rose buds to shower.

When his bouquet of rose buds was over, leaving him closer to defeat against the rival southern boys, he decided to bring more roses.

But there was protest from southern boys. He didn't want to give up. His determination to see his favourite candidate win was motivating him to do everything possible.

Tipu protested and organised his band of boys to spread out in the city in search of as many roses on sale at the florist corners.

He slipped into his Maruti Gypsy and steered the wheel around the city and returned with all the roses of the city's florists and turned around the outcome of the beauty contest.

The result was a clear triumph for the candidate of his choice. It was the resolution of the issue of his heart and mind.

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Tipu had a black Yamaha during his first and second year of engineering. He got a four-wheeler in the third year. When it arrived, he was not happy with the colour. He chose to paint the Gypsy in black. Tipu thought red was a dazzling and attractive colour.

Only to make it simpler and moderate, he sprayed black paint. It sounds quite interesting as he wears the red socialist cap with pride and valour in his eyes and hearts.

He was extremely fond of driving. It was his joie de vivre.

During holidays, he invited friends and drove to the beat of his music to  a beach near Mangalore, when he was not biking in the rain on the highway in the first two years of college. Rain bemused and bewitched him. No journey could be halted by rain.

He was the first to help his friends in financial crisis.  His private accommodation further down the streets was open to all. He didn't prefer to stay in the hostel.

He himself was shy of asking for money when he would need money at certain times. In taste, he was a delightful vegetarian. Drinking never appealed to his senses.

The birthdays of his friends were uplifting moments for him. He toasted the occasion.

Watching an English action thriller at the famous Skyland theatre in the city was perfect amusement for him.

Tipu became a fan of Sylvester Stallone and of two of his mesmerising characters in Rocky and Rambo: Boxer Rocky Blboa and soldier John Rambo. In Bollywood, only Amitabh Bachchan could impress Akhilesh with his on-screen acts.

At the Skyland theatre, Tipu also became a fan of Julia Roberts after watching Sleeping with the Enemy.

Frank Huzur is an author, poet and playwright.  He is the biographer of Imran Khan, Pakistan's legendary-cricketer-turned-politician. Frank is releasing the most definitive biography of Mulayam Singh Yadav in April-May.




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