THE CUB EARNS HIS STRIPES

Akhilesh Ya­dav turns the ta­bles in the bit­ter SP fam­ily feud to emerge defini­tively from fa­ther Mu­layam’s shadow

India Today - - NATION - By Ashish Misra

New Year’s Day marked a wa­ter­shed in Ut­tar Pradesh’s pol­i­tics. All along the roads lead­ing to Lucknow’s Janesh­war Mishra Park, walls were plas­tered with posters of Chief Min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav. Hoard­ings came up overnight. The venue of the spe­cial na­tional con­ven­tion or­gan­ised by the Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) was a pic­ture of Akhilesh’s dom­i­nance in the party. On the dais, a big chair with a ta­ble had been placed in the cen­tre of the front row, for Akhilesh. Flank­ing him were loy­al­ists of fa­ther Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav: SP vet­eran Re­wati Ra­man Singh, party gen­eral sec­re­tary Ki­ran­moy Nanda, Ra­jya Sabha MP Naresh Agar­wal, among oth­ers. In the course of the event, the long-spec­u­lated power shift in the party was for­malised. Akhilesh was unan­i­mously cho­sen the SP’s na­tional pres­i­dent and for­mer boss Mu­layam was de­clared the party’s pa­tron. While Akhilesh-baiter and Mu­layam’s brother Shiv­pal Singh was re­moved as the party’s pres­i­dent in UP, Mu­layam con­fi­dant Amar Singh got the boot.

The de­vel­op­ment, and the rapid turn of events lead­ing up to it, may have left many shocked, but in­sid­ers say the ‘coup’ was merely the cli­max of a game plan scripted by Akhilesh over the past two years to se­cure his own iden­tity in the po­lit­i­cal land­scape of UP, and In­dia. Through 2016, as the Ya­dav fam­ily tug of war turned into a full-blown pub­lic spec­ta­cle and touched new lows, Akhilesh looked ev­ery bit a leader slowly turn­ing a party-fam­ily cri­sis into an op­por­tu­nity. By Septem­ber, he had roped in po­lit­i­cal ex­pert Steve Jor­dan of Har­vard Univer­sity to help strate­gise his party’s 2017 as­sem­bly elec­tion cam­paign. Jor­dan got down to busi­ness, study­ing the Akhilesh gov­ern­ment’s wel­fare schemes and gath­er­ing con­stituency-level specifics by meet­ing SP MLAs. SP sources say Jor­dan is work­ing on cre­at­ing seat-spe­cific elec­tion man­i­festos for Akhilesh.

Many be­lieve that un­der the Akhilesh gov­ern­ment, the SP the SP has be­gun to shed the legacy of the years when the party was as­so­ci­ated with UP’s crim­i­nalised pol­i­tics. To achieve this, the Ya­dav scion has played a leader de­ter­mined to push de­vel­op­ment in UP. On De­cem­ber 22, the very day Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi was in Varanasi, Akhilesh in­au­gu­rated a sec­tion of the up­com­ing Varuna river cor­ri­dor in the city that show­cased 50 me­tres of de­vel­oped river­front area. His gov­ern­ment plans to de­velop an­other 10 km of the Varuna river­front by De­cem­ber 2017. “As a counter to Naren­dra Modi’s de­vel­op­ment face, Akhilesh Ya­dav has in­au­gu­rated all ma­jor projects of his gov­ern­ment on time,” says Dr Arvind Mo­han, pro­fes­sor of economics at Lucknow Univer­sity. “He is try­ing to draw ad­van­tage from projects like the Lucknow-Agra Ex­press­way, Lucknow Metro, and the IT city project in Lucknow.”

Last month, Akhilesh in­au­gu­rated over a dozen projects worth over Rs 5,000 crore in Lucknow. In east­ern UP, where the SP com­mands a strong base, his gov­ern­ment is de­vel­op­ing the 354-km Sa­ma­jwadi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.