New Delhi, July 26: Akhilesh Yadav may not yet have earned the sobriquet “rollback CM” despite recanting two decisions within 24 hours, but the Uttar Pradesh chief minister does not appear to have settled down five months into his new job.
On Tuesday, when he interacted with women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders at an event organised by a business and commerce chamber in the capital, the young leader took every question from the audience, including the discomfiting ones.
At the end of the two-hour session, the ladies who came “looking for commitments and assurances” were heard asking one another over coffee: “But what did he say?”
Akhilesh did not trip over an answer because he found an easy way out: he smiled his way through and gave replies that sometimes meant nothing.
The only time he was candid was when quizzed about young second- and third-generation politicians who were there because of their fathers and grandfathers.
“I admit that there is a young generation in politics that owes everything to its family links. Myself and Dimple (his wife who was elected last month from Kannauj) are beneficiaries of this. Having said this, I must add that my party gave an opportunity to many first-generation youths,” he said.
“The baseline is that if you work sincerely among the people, regardless of whether you come from a political clan or not, you are accepted. Somebody asked me what was your biggest achievement in your election campaign. I said the media’s discovery of me.”
But Akhilesh does not appear to have found his feet yet. He recently rolled back two decisions within 24 hours. One was an order to shops and malls to shut by 7pm for at least a fortnight to save power. The other was a bounty he bestowed on MLAs who didn’t possess cars to buy one of up to Rs 20 lakh from their local area development funds.
That Akhilesh had his father, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, as his political guru was the object of envy by his peers in other parties in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh elections.
But Mulayam’s political tutelage was fast becoming a “hindrance” for his son, Samajwadi sources said. From appointing his council of ministers that had its share of controversial inductees like Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya to driving cabinet decisions, such as renaming districts that were given new names by Mayawati, the sources said Mulayam’s marks were visible all over.
Asked if the “generation gap” factor impacted his functioning, Akhilesh answered cautiously. “I accept there are differences between the old and new generation,” he said. “The senior people have experience on their side, the younger people have fresh ideas.”
Akhilesh gave an example to illustrate how the young could get the better of the old but ironically it was culled from his pre-election experiences.
“We young people decided to take out a cycle ‘yatra’ from Noida to Agra. Our senior leaders were not happy. They said it’s too hot, the roads are bad. We said young people can do such things only at this age. For three years we cycled from Noida to Agra, passing by the famous statues (erected by the Mayawati government). Looking back, that ‘yatra’ paid us dividends, it brought us to power,” he said.