Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is finally walking out of father
Mulayam Singh Yadav's shadow, carefully building the state's
business profile, looking into the nitty-gritty of key government
schemes and rejigging the bureaucracy and his council of
ministers. As an aide put it, 'Bhaiyyaji' is finally calling the
The 39-year-old, who took over the reins of India's most
politically significant and populous state of 200 million people
last March, has had a tough one year - battling allegations that
he was unable to shake off the influence of his father, the ruling
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief, or his 'uncles'. Mulayam Singh's
brother, PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, and senior SP leader,
Urban Development Minister Mohammed Azam Khan, have been frequent
embarrassments with their public utterances.
Now, it appears, Akhilesh Yadav is determined to come into his own
as events of the last month have shown.
He shunted Anil Kumar Gupta from the all powerful post of the
Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner (IIDC) and
holding six other charges to an insignificant board of revenue
member post. In a bid to make sure that the state's business
profile was enhanced, he personally oversaw preparations and
fine-tuned major policies at the CII Global Partnership Summit in
"He changed the officially planned schedule and openly interacted
with the business delegates and industry captains for several
hours, taking us by surprise" a senior official told IANS.
Creatively too, insiders said, the chief minister has taken the
"reins in his own hands" and decides on the publicity "make up" of
government schemes like the Kanya Vidya Dhan Yojna, Hamari Beti,
Unka Bhavishya and personally sits for the creatives.
"The CM is very particular about the image of the state government
and about how well the information is disseminated to the masses,"
said an official.
He has also rejigged the state bureaucracy and police,
transferring more than 30 high-ranking officials.
"Akhilesh Yadav knows that time is running out for him fast as he
nears the first year as chief minister. He now wants to set the
agenda," said one of his secretaries.
To create an investment-friendly environment in the state, the
chief minister's office is working in close tandem with the office
of the chief secretary. Visits of foreign delegations are being
streamlined so that the chief minister gets to meet them.
In the last few months, more than a dozen foreign business
delegations, diplomats and business heads have met him. These
include billionaire Bill Gates, his wife Melinda Gates as well as
the envoys of key countries like the US, Britain, Australia and
"The chief minister seriously wants a makeover of the image of the
state," said Prabhat Mittal, managing director of Uttar Pradesh
Electronics Corporation Limited, which oversaw the bidding process
of the Rs.2,800 crore global tender of 1.5 million laptops to be
distributed free to students who has passed Class 12.
The process, part of the SP poll manifesto promise, won kudos from
Hewlett-Packard India, which won the bid.
"I must admit that when we filed for the tender, we were very
apprehensive from what we had heard about UP from industry
sources. But the transparency and smooth processing of the whole
process has left me pleasantly surprised," Ajay Sehgal, country
sales manager, told IANS.
Politically too, insiders said, Akhilesh Yadav has started
On Thursday, he added one cabinet minister and 10 ministers to his
11-month government. "The induction of young ministers like Vijay
Mishra and Nitin Agarwal sure has the Akhilesh stamp," said a
senior SP leader.
The chief minister knows that any further delay in setting the
agenda could be ominous for his political career in the long term
and is now looking for deliverables.
Opposition leaders said it might be too late.
"Akhilesh was always seen as someone who is clean and well meaning
but in the past one year he has lost that aura," said Bharatiya
Janata Party's Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
The Bahujan Samaj Party's Swamy Prasad Maurya was more critical.
"The chief minister's performance has been criticised by his
father and others openly. There are so many chief ministers in the
state. UP is completely messed up," he said.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)