You may be a grown man in charge of India’s most populous state, but clearly daddy still knows best. Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has once again publicly berated his son and chosen heir Akhilesh Yadav for the falling down on governance in Uttar Pradesh. Now many may think that this is a calculated political ploy to demonstrate that unlike the other major political party in the state, the BSP, the SP has a lively inner party democracy. But it could also be the result of Yadav senior’s growing frustration at the slide in UP and his fears that this will impact the party’s fortunes in the general elections which are not too far away now. It is unusual in dynastic politics in India for senior politicians to publicly take on their children. If Mulayam really means that his son cannot take his position for granted, then that is a good sign. But, what Mulayam seems to forget is that many tainted ministers in his son Akhilesh Yadav’s government are close to and were chosen by the ‘neta’ himself. When Yadav senior was in power, were things better in UP? Not at all, law and order as always was a problem and his son has not been able to do any better. Whatever his motivation, Mulayam’s criticism of Akhilesh is justified.
The horrific case of the murder of a police officer and the alleged involvement of a minister in Akhilesh’s government is only the latest in a series of misdemeanours and abuse of power by his flock. The minister, Raghuraj Pratap Singh, has now resigned but surely he could not have flourished and become such a feared name had the Yadav clan not allowed him a free run for years. If Mulayam Singh Yadav was so keen on good governance, he should have prevented his son from inducting all sorts of unsavoury characters into his cabinet in the first place. He could have stopped this worrisome practice of transferring honest officers to suit political ends. He should have encouraged his son to focus on development in the desperately poor and backward state. But none of this has happened even over a year after the young chief minister took over. When he came to power, there was great hope that he would cleanse the system and change the way UP was governed. Instead, the same ruinous political culture has been perpetuated. But, on a less cynical note, if the party leader has decided to go out on a limb and make his unhappiness felt, we hope that he will follow through on ensuring the changes he wants his son to bring about.
A quick rejig of the cabinet to weed out non-performers and the corrupt would be a good start. And a development drive on a war footing should begin simultaneously. Then perhaps the hopes of a new improved UP which Akhilesh Yadav promised, and which his father is clamouring for, can begin to take shape.