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Not even trying to govern

india Updated: Sep 15, 2013 03:18 IST
chanakya
Uttar Pradesh

The fault lies in us. We were bedazzled by this young lad with his foreign education, his seeming lack of baggage, his promises of ending Uttar Pradesh’s goonda raj, his easy manner, his refusal to speak the language of caste and religion. This explains how great our disappointment has been now that he has turned out no better, in fact, worse than his predecessors, notably his father, or netaji as he calls him. I am speaking, of course, of Akhilesh Yadav, the dynast with a difference, or so I thought.

For a start, I wonder what kind of politician he is. The communal conflagration, which is just about ebbing in the state, is a sinister political plot aimed at polarising the vote-bank. If Akhilesh had an iota of political savvy, he would have seen this for what it is and acted fast to quell it. Or is it that his own party was dabbling in a bit of communal politics, never mind, if it meant that people lost their lives? Any political novice could have told you that this flare-up did not happen spontaneously; it was cleverly designed and executed.

I was quite willing to give Akhilesh a long rope when he took over. ‘Come on, he is young and governing a place like UP is a task that could defeat even a seasoned politician,’ many said, and I concurred. But once you are in the chief minister’s chair, govern you must. And I have yet to see any evidence that Akhilesh has even tried. Even so, I think few expected the sort of communal conflagration that has claimed so many lives in UP. And did Akhilesh look even remotely worried? Not at all. Like a cynical politician he coolly blamed everyone but his own administration for the failure of law and order. Social media was blamed, the BJP was blamed, political opponents were blamed, but nowhere did he say mea culpa.

I think Akhilesh needs to give up the pretence now. He is not his own man. That is the best I can say for him. He is ineffective because his hands are tied by the fiefdoms he inherited from his father. So he dithers while a Raja Bhaiya cocks a snook at the law, he looks the other way when an Azam Khan makes the most absurd statements, he goes his merry way as though nothing has happened. Once in a while, daddy lays about him publicly and he looks sheepish and then goes back to his bad old ways like a juvenile delinquent. Have you heard anything so ridiculous? A grown man, a chief minister of India’s biggest state is publicly upbraided by his father who also happens to be the leader of his party.
Do they think they are fooling anyone by this charade? It is daddy’s cronies who are calling the shots in UP. They seem to take orders from Mulayam Singh Yadav, not his procrastinating son. Not everyone is born to greatness, I agree. But many people do grow in the job. But here is a man who has been handed a great challenge that could make or break his name. And what does he chose? The latter.

The recent riots, one in a long line after Akhilesh took over, were eminently containable. At the first hint of violence, Akhilesh could have taken steps to crack down on the miscreants and contained the situation. Instead, like a cynical politician, he sought to make political capital out of the situation. After several days of violence, he lamely told us that he had given a free hand to the district administrations to deal with the situation. Was the administration’s hands tied in the first place?

At first the Yadav clan cronies stayed in the background. But no sooner had Akhilesh begun his tenure than they made it clear that he was there to do their bidding and not the other way around. Akhilesh who should have asserted himself tamely gave in and started talking the language of the old Machiavellian UP politics. So much for fresh blood.

I have been arguing long and loud for the old guard to make way for the young. Their lack of cynicism, their fresh ideas and their modern outlook are just some of the things that India needs. Most of all, we need a break from the caste, class, creed based politics where vote-banks are all. India is being dragged down by states like UP. States like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, also at the bottom of the heap as far as development indicators go, have much older CMs but they are moving ahead. Comparisons are odious, but UP did not witness such communal violence under Mayawati, though god knows she had her share of faults.

Akhilesh has instituted a one-member judicial commission to look into the violence. Great, but the damage is done, people have died, they have lost their homes, they have lost their jobs and they are living in fear. A judicial commission is not likely to ease their pain. If ever there was a case of rising to the occasion, it was now. Akhilesh acted as though communal riots were little more than a dust-up in the maidan. If India was already looking like a dead loss in the eyes of foreign investors and domestic investors, the communal violence has only added to the apocalyptic sense of doom. And some blame for this must go to Akhilesh. Not something he would like to tell the grandchildren about some day.