Amid old and new problems, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, 39, will complete one year in office on Friday — more sure-footed than before, but still battling perceptions.
Under relentless attack from the opposition, the youngest CM of India’s most populous and politically significant state, has gone back to what he is undoubtedly good at — cycle yatras, albeit with a difference.
Instead of cycling himself, the CM on Thursday flagged off a team of enthusiasts including girls to propagate the Samajwadi Party government’s achievements and demolish the opposition’s propaganda.
What, perhaps, is bothering him is growing public perception about the government’s poor grip on the law and order situation.
Though a close scrutiny of data from the police headquarters tells a different story, what perhaps worries the SP leadership is the widespread feeling that every time there is an SP government in the state, lawlessness increases.
Details of 2011 and 2012 don’t show any improvement or deterioration in the state’s crime situation.
However, 27 incidents of communal tension in different districts between March and December 2012 have not helped the CM, who has gone full steam ahead in fulfilling poll promises.
Party workers have been assigned the task of improving the government’s image on the law and order front. They are on the job with the party manifesto in which a “promises kept” column is ticked in bold.
The CM has become more assured in public, but not yet overcome the impression that the SP old guard run parallel power centres. He has also mastered the art of reacting calmly to criticism, especially from the opposition.
“Those pointing fingers at us will give pass marks in the coming days,” he said recently, reacting to the opposition raking up his government’s “failures”.