elected the chief ministerial candidate at the SP legislature party meet. Amid incessant phone calls at 'white house', the popular name for the Yadav residence in Lucknow, Sunita Aron of HT caught up with a proud Mulayam, a happy Akhilesh and a relieved Ramgopal Yadav, the CM-elect’s uncle.
Mulayam Singh Yadav: (Beaming) I am the proud father of a chief minister.
How does it feel to hand over responsibility of the state to Akhilesh?
Mulayam: I am feeling very nice, very light. He will do a fine job.
Akhilesh: Of course I will be taking guidance from my father, my uncles and seniors like Azam Khan. The state will be run in consultation with our seniors as well as cooperation of the Opposition leaders.
Ram Gopal Yadav: It’s all too emotional. I don’t know what to say.
What are your plans Mulayam Singh ji?
Mulayam: Janta ke beech rahenge (I will be amidst the people) Now that I can leave UP in my son's hand, I will be playing a larger role in national politics. I want to take my party forward from regional to national level. The Lok Sabha elections are also due in 2014.
Akhilesh: He will be here as well as in Delhi. I don't know why people raise his health issue even after he extensively campaigned in the elections.
Law and order is a big challenge before the government?
Mulayam: It is. But has there been any violent incident after our meeting with the chief secretary and DGP? They have controlled the situation, haven’t they?
Akhilesh: The party workers have been told to behave or face the music.
Mulayam: Education and agriculture besides laptops, jobs, vidya dhan etc. The state’s sobriquet of Ulta Pradesh should change to Uttam Pradesh.
Akhilesh: We will remain positive in approach. One way is to turn files and start witch hunting, suspensions etc. This will derail our focus, which is progress and development.
What about your cabinet?
Mulayam: He will decide in consultation and will represent all regions and castes.
Akhilesh: Yes, we will try to include representations from all castes and regions. There will be experienced faces along with some fresh ones.
Who all are being invited to the swearing in ceremony?
Mulayam: We are sending invites to all the chief ministers, ministers, UPA chairperson, opposition leaders, prominent leaders etc. Let’s see who all can come and attend it.
Akhilesh: The list is being sent to Raj Bhawan.