The poor performance of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls appears to have woken up Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to the need for devoting attention to the governance of the sprawling state - she held a long review meeting in Lucknow on Friday.
A series of interactions were held with her ministers, MPs, legislators and district coordinators over the past few days, culminating in a detailed review with top bureaucrats and ministers on Friday, when she talked about the need for toning up the entire administration to meet the needs of the common man.
For the larger part of the two-hour-long closed-door meeting, it remained a monologue, which everyone heard with rapt attention. Interestingly, her emphasis was on providing a "corruption free governance". And she issued a stern warning to both ministers and bureaucrats - "behave, perform or perish", an informed source told IANS.
Significantly, she also sought to issue a stern diktat against involvement of goondas and muscle-men in various construction projects undertaken by the government. "Shun goondas" was the stern order give by her to both ministers and bureaucrats, an official press release said.
"I will have my intelligence officials keep a tab on all such activity and wherever I find that my directives against allowing anti-social element to get involved in construction projects have been violated, the axe will first fall on bureaucrats concerned," she said, while adding, "but at the same time responsibility will also be fixed on ministers for such a lapse."
Having resigned to the belief that caste and religious calculations alone would sail her party through the hustings, governance had not remained on her list of priorities earlier -- but now it was suddenly back on the agenda.
Perhaps the poll results have exposed the myth of the much-hyped 'social engineering' that had completely overshadowed the reality of a strong anti-Mulayam Singh Yadav factor that had propelled her party to power in May 2007.
Friday's meet was aimed at sending the message loud and clear, particularly to the bureaucracy, that the chief minister was not ready to tolerate any let up in governance.
"Officials have got to pull up their socks; I will not listen to excuses of any kind; they have to be be responsive to people's representatives and also ensure proper implementation of all development oriented schemes," she was quoted as having told the gathering.
Insistent on a periodical review of all departments both at the state as well as the district level, Mayawati urged ministers to devote 10 days every month towards execution of government programmes.
She expressed her displeasure with the working of the education department and teaching in educational institutions and emphasised upon the need to improve working of hospitals.
Mayawati also told the ministers to gear up for the 2012 Assembly elections.