This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Gunja Kapoor. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Akhilesh Yadav – Making Netaji Proud

More from Gunja Kapoor

Aap UP mein hain…

Dec 30, ’16: in an unfortunate series of events, the SP patriarch, Mulayam Singh Yadav, fondly known as Netaji, expelled his son Akhilesh Yadav from Samajwadi Party. After a prolonged internal struggle of power, and the family feud playing itself out it public, the battle got murkier when Akhilesh Yadav’s list of candidates for the 2017 elections was shredded by his father, in favour of belligerent Shivpal Singh Yadav, younger brother of Netaji.

Prior to 2012, Uttar Pradesh politics was plagued with the ‘macabre politics’ of Mayawati, replete with caste divide, corruption, and ostentatious show of power and money. The youth of the state was disillusioned, as unemployment spiralled, state debt increased, and industries raced to mortality. With UPAII scams, BJP not willing to compromise with its staunch socio-religious stance, and BSP synonymous to a cesspool, SP was UP’s best bet.

In 2012, Samajwadi Party won the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, with 224 seats, the highest ever single-party majority since 1993 (BJP, 177 seats). The party won by garnering 29.1% of votes, compared to meagre 97 seats in 2007. 2012 elections not only reinstated SP as a political force to reckon with, it also sent out a message of optimism for the youth, with the young Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, 38, at the helm of affairs. Akhilesh Yadav and Netaji together represented a near perfect blend of the energy and experience. He won on a pro-development agenda, promising the change, UP was desperate for. Raja Bhaiya and Gundaraaj image continued to be the visible blemishes.

Uttar Pradesh is a complex state, with a sex ratio of 912, caste divide running deep, educated population of 67%, year-on-year migration of ~2.7 million, and poor health index. Akhilesh Yadav fought through inimical political and social forces that went hammer and tongs, to ensure the young politician failed, and failed miserably. In 2012, armchair analysts called him “Netaji ka beta”, for Akhilesh had less than a decade of political work behind him, his development plans seemed too good to be true, his interviews candid and honest. He was far from the grey streaked UP politician, who spewed venom and resorted to communal games time and again.

Akhilesh Yadav learnt the tricks to trade from the best, Netaji himself, with a difference. When most politicos who refuse to get out election mode, blame their failures on predecessors and support their questionable acts with the rhetoric, “they also did it”, this young man admitted his failures and took accountability for lapses, each time situation demanded high profile intervention. Each time he was questioned about winning elections or his strategy to combat competition, Akhilesh would quip, “May the Best man win”. He vocally opposed opportunists like Amar Singh, and continued to do so, even after Netaji reconciled with him. Akhilesh Yadav steered away from being the obedient son, by asserting his views and decisions, including breaking ties with Shivpal and hiring the strategist Steve Jarding.  Moreover, it was heartening to see Akhilesh Yadav staying put to UP, not expanding realms to other parts of the nation.

The unprecedented popularity of Akhilesh Yadav, did not go down well with some aspirational members of the SP cadre. With visible mass support and MLAs in his camp, Akhilesh Yadav did not hesitate in taking some tough and bold decisions. Arnab Goswami in 2013 asked, Akhilesh Yadav if he is a man with good intentions, surrounded by wrong people, and he had responded with a nonchalant nod. In a party that was touted as “parivaarvadi”, the expulsion of Shivpal Yadav by his own nephew was considered outright brazen by the high command. Mulayam Singh Yadav was caught in a spot when he was asked to take sides between his brother and his son.

It is speculated that Netaji was also worried about losing ground, with his son enjoying both public and political support.  All political leaders used instances of “ghar waapsi”, Mathura clash of Ram Vriksh Yadav, Badayun rape case, Dadri lynch as photo opportunities and an arduous situation for Akhilesh Yadav. Let us not forget, that not even Netaji came to Akhilesh’s rescue when opposition hurled attacks at him for perpetuating a polarised climate.

Akhilesh Yadav had time and again urged SP to get rid of all members who had a checkered past, some of whom were Netaji’s loyalists. However, Netaji refused to relent. He not only trashed his son’s list of candidates, he expelled the man whom he himself trained for the battleground. His statement “people of Uttar Pradesh had accepted Akhilesh Yadav as the chief minister because he was his son”, in September 2016 was the last nail in the coffin. Did Netaji imply, that his son has not delivered, and deserves to be ousted? Is he writing his script to defeat? Will Netaji want to be remembered as the Dasharatha of Indian politics, who exiled his son at the behest of his loyalists?

Little did he know that Akhilesh Yadav will have both, numbers and demographics to his side. Akhilesh Yadav galvanised the masses with his energy and classes with his acumen. As I write, more than 150 MLAs have reported their presence at the Akhilesh camp, resplendent show of force. Will the 25-year-old party collapse, if the son decides to be on his own? Will SP get the support of youth, without its poster face? Is SP losing its USP of an undivided family, that mobilised voters across social strata? Amar Singh, doesn’t deserve to be mentioned as a material force, anyways.

Did Netaji expel Akhilesh in the heat of the moment, is there more than what meets the eye? Is this an independent decision of a seasoned politician or a desperate effort by an octogenarian to save his ground? Will Netaji be challenged by his own protégé, or will he mediate to get the parivar gain? Is an invisible hand writing this script, or a sequence of events, that will change the dynamics of Uttar Pradesh? Will BJP have the last laugh or behenji make votes while the cycle gets punctured?

As the adage goes, only time will tell. SP losing without Akhilesh, Akhilesh winning without SP, or SP winning with Akhilesh as its CM candidate, Netaji’s son has learnt the game, well; maybe even better. 

2016, the SP that was.

You must be to comment.

More from Gunja Kapoor

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Zain Shahab Usmani

By Azam Danish

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below