For years, Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers would multitask furiously. As head of the state government, they would implement — or, at least, attempt to show that they are implementing — the plans they had promised to the people before coming to power. Simultaneously, because of the wobbliness inherent in the partnerships made according to the rulebook of coalition politics, Chief Ministers would strategise about how to survive during their imminent years in Opposition. As a result, Chief Ministers in Lucknow would hardly have the will or the time to put their energies into their real job: administering the state. UP’s 32nd Chief Minister, Mayawati, does not have to worry about constantly looking over her shoulder. Her government’s stability has been attested by the electorate’s mandate to the Bahujan Samaj Party and she finds herself in the enviable position of being able to focus on her real job at hand: bringing law and order back to UP and putting the state on the road to development.
But old habits die hard. In the revolving door political landscape that UP had become so familiar with until May 11 changed that, one of the prime priorities of any Chief Minister was to undo everything that his immediate predecessor had done. And within this political version of Newton’s Third Law, the doing-undoing tango played out by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati has already started becoming the stuff of cowbelt legend. Mayawati, in her fourth chief ministership, has already started changing the administrative furniture left behind by her predecessor. On Monday, she transferred 173 IPS officers and 28 IAS officers. This ‘betters’ her 2002 figure of transferring 126 officers at one go. While some of the transfers may have been required to ‘mop up the mess’, blitzkrieg transfers like that of officers in the Lucknow Development Authority, the UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam and the Public Works Department — made after Mayawati found the Ambedkar Park in Gomtinagar not taken care of — smack of the old feudal tit-for-tat business.
Mayawati does not need to proclaim to anyone — certainly not Mr Yadav — that it’s ‘payback time’. She has the luxury of focusing on UP. Bringing order into the chaos that is her predecessor’s legacy will be the best act of revenge that Mayawati can deliver. And the people of UP will appreciate her breaking the pointless, petty and vicious cycle.