Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav was on the front-foot right from the word go.
Though playing with a straight bat (in a manner of speaking), he did not hesitate to unleash a flurry of verbal strokes as an unmistakably strong message beneath his mild manner came to the fore while addressing the state’s IAS officers here on Friday.
Making it clear that he could not be taken for granted and calling upon the bureaucrats to introspect on why their image was taking a beating, he said, “I give you due respect. I am polite. Yet this should not be considered a weakness.” He was addressing the senior administrative officers’ conference organised as part of the IAS week at Tilak Hall in the Vidhan Bhawan.
Illustrating how perceptions about the state bureaucracy had changed over the years, he noted, “Uttar Pradesh cadre officers had reached high positions at the centre earlier. But the number of officers getting empanelled is coming down now.”
Showered with epithets like young and energetic during his 10 months in power, he conveyed to the mandarins that he was against sycophancy.
"I do not like exaggerated appreciation of my personality at public forum,” he said.
He also quick to draw a contrast between the way officers were treated in his regime and the previous one under which they reportedly felt humiliated.
To buttress his claim, he gave the example of a district (Kanpur) where he was made to announce the construction of a flyover though the same had been sanctioned for another place.
If this had taken place during the previous regime (Mayawati’s tenure), the officers would have been punished, he said.
Reminding the officers that they were part of the government, he urged them to do exemplary developmental work in coordination with one another so that other states could emulate Uttar Pradesh.
Dwelling on the symbiotic relationship between the political wing of the government and the bureaucracy, he said if officers excelled in organisation of the Maha Kumbh (Allahabad), it would bring honour to his government but if paddy procurement was messed up, the regime earned a bad name.
Asking the officers to implement his government’s agenda sincerely, he exhorted them to create an investment-friendly climate in the state where there would be no scope for corruption.
During the conference, some officers said there should be a discussion on protecting bureaucrats who were targeted unnecessarily by way of the cases filed against them in the districts.