When the white ambassador pulled up at the Samajwadi Party (SP) office on Vikramaditya Marg here on Saturday morning, Akhilesh Yadav was in the back seat.His father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was in the front. An hour later when the two emerged, it was official — the 38-year-old was to be in the driver’s seat of the most populous state of the country.Yadav Jr had been unanimously elected leader of the SP legislative party. After his name was proposed by senior leader Mohd Azam Khan and seconded by his uncle Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh touched his father’s feet. If Khan and Shivpal were unhappy with the decision they did not show it. “He (Akhilesh) grew up in front of them, so it’s not easy for them to accept him as a boss," said a close aide of Azam Khan. Later Khan said he was “not speaker material” and wanted Mulayam to be CM for “emotional reasons. But I have bowed before his wishes”. The swearing-in has been scheduled for March 15. After his elevation as CM, Akhilesh will have six month’s time to get elected to the state assembly and quit his Lok Sabha membership. Sources indicate that he is likely to contest elections from the family fort of Jaswantnagar, a seat held for long by Shivpal Yadav.
Addressing his first press conference as leader of SP’s legislative party, Akhilesh promised to maintain law and order and said honest officers would be appointed in districts. He also reiterated that his government would not indulge in “vendetta politics”. When questioned about Mulayam Singh Yadav’s role, he said, “Netaji will be actively involved at both the Centre and the state.”