By Anand Singh:
Let us talk about Uttar Pradesh. No, let us talk about its illustrious Chief Minister instead. He is the youngest to have assumed the post in the history of post-independent India. The above fact notwithstanding, there’s hardly any work done by him which could endear him to the youth across the state. The promise to live upto the hopes of the most populous state within the Indian union is a distant mirage, three years to be precise.
The media went berserk in early 2012 when it was declared that Akhilesh Yadav (who was, by all means, the obvious heir) and not Mulayam Singh Yadav, would be the next Chief Minister of the state. His educational credentials were dug up from beneath the ground to bolster his suitability for the job. That he holds a Masters degree in environmental engineering from the University of Sydney was used to portray him as an ideal man for the post. This was before Arvind Kejriwal or Manohar Parikkar, who had studied engineering as well, had assumed offices in their respective states. But that is hardly the point here. An engineering degree does not vouch for your acumen as an able administrator. Akhilesh Yadav epitomizes the case stated above.
His odyssey began as a romantic dream for the youth across the State, who saw in his person a faint glimmer of hope, hope that the old guard might soon be replaced by a reinvigorated system. Sourav Yadav, a Masters student at BHU, says: “His election struck a chord with the youth as they saw him as the harbinger of the much-needed change within the system. To be honest, three years of his tenure has achieved nothing considerable. I voted for him in the last assembly elections, and I resent my decision to do so till date.” What Sourav voiced was, in fact, the underlying resentment with his government that is catching on like an infection. A clear and decisive majority was handed over to Samajwadi Party in the form of 224 seats in the state legislature. An array of tangible initiatives could’ve been undertaken for the welfare of the people. Instead, the Akhilesh Yadav government was hit by a series of controversies from the very beginning.
The voters in Uttar Pradesh, especially the youth, had voted for Akhilesh Yadav to be the helmsman of change. On the contrary, they were rewarded with multiple power centers within the government. Akhilesh Yadav has been dubbed on multiple occasions as a mere stooge of his dad who wields actual power behind the scenes. The electorate was already getting disenchanted with a similar power-sharing arrangement at the Center. Edmund Burke once famously remarked, “Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.”
The earlier BSP government, with Mayawati at the helm, was hailed for its shrewd administrative acumen. Mayawati has always been praised for her skilled administrative abilities for ruling the state with an iron hand. Many in the state recall the peace, however, uneasy it might have been, fostered by the efforts of her government at a time when Allahabad High Court delivered the much-awaited verdict on Babri Masjid litigation. Krishna Singh, a student from Azamgarh, who lives in Delhi, is particularly candid when he says, “Had it been for Samajwadi Party’s government at that time, the entire UP would’ve gone up in flames aroused by communal passions. Everyone still remembers what happened in Muzaffarnagar.” Speaking of the communal conflagration in Muzaffarnagar, the brazen apathy put on display by the state government did nothing to alleviate its image in the eyes of the general public. While families displaced, as a result of rioting, were left to languish in inhuman camps, camps which flew in the face of essential human dignity, the entire Yadav clan along with the Chief Minister was seen having the time of their lives at ‘Saifai Mahotsav.’ For the uninitiated, Saifai Mahotsav is an annual cultural extravaganza organized at the expense of taxpayer’s money at the paternal village of Mulayam Singh Yadav and his kin. So much for a young CM, eh?
The electorate across Uttar Pradesh, in particular, the youth, had voted for a government that would provide them with employment and stability throughout the province. What they received instead was a sheer mockery of their expectations. The Akhilesh Yadav government was seen overtly dabbling in the politics of caste and identity when it should have been working for the welfare of the people. The blatant favoritism towards the Yadav community in the state in the matter of government jobs has further alienated public opinion from the government. Furthermore, the Government, led by Akhilesh Yadav’s policy of openly appeasing the Muslim community, has failed to resonate with the youth. Consequently, when a democratically elected government turns unresponsive to the demands and expectations of its people, backlash, and angry repercussion is sure to follow. The anger among the youth is palpable, and the discontent is seething. A host of populist policies like the distribution of free laptops (which in any case has been withdrawn) was at best a meandering political gimmick.
Akhilesh Yadav once posted on his Facebook handle that he would appear for a debate on a news channel, requesting everyone to watch the debate. A student’s response in the comment section (Light rehti nahi, dekhu kya babaji ka thullu?) was particularly hilarious and was also symptomatic of the underlying rage against his government. The junior Yadav has failed to gauge the writing on the wall. Edmund Burke might just be right this time around as well.