In an apparent dig at the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said Uttar Pradesh "desperately" needed a leadership that is "forward looking and modern".
The prime minister said the people of the state needed a leadership that was "thinking about the future. In recent years, Uttar Pradesh has been held back by a leadership that only thinks about the past".
Singh was speaking after conferring the IIM Lucknow- Lakshmipat Singhania National Leadership Awards to six persons who have achieved excellence in the fields of business, science and technology and community service and social upliftment.
"Uttar Pradesh desperately needs forward looking and modern leadership. The people of Uttar Pradesh need a government that will invest in their future," he said.
"Far too much of public attention has been focused on the legacies of history, and not enough on the potential of the future", Singh said.
The prime minister expressed hope that the 'Leadership Awards' would "inspire" the people of UP to "think into the future" by seeing how these business and societal leaders have transformed their business and the society.
Observing that what would differentiate one state from another was the quality of governance, Singh said that states must pay special attention to the challenge of improving the quality of governance, both in local and state administration.
"We need a leadership that has the vision to ensure that government institutions perform better, attitude change and tax payers get their money's worth. Leadership, in the final analysis, is about tapping the potential of the followers," he said.
Expressing concern about the unequal pace of development region in different regions, he said there were regions which experienced an average of 8-9 per cent growth in the last two decades and there were other regions which remained stuck at 3-4 per cent.
"This imbalance cannot continue. We must accelerate the pace of economic growth in the less developed regions of the country," Singh said.
He said that institutions like IIM-Lucknow, must analyse the reasons for the backwardness of some regions and come forward with pragmatic and focused strategies to accelerate development, both rural and urban in UP, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan.
Recalling his speech at the North Region Chief Minister's Conference a few months ago, Singh said that the political and business leadership of this region has a lot of thinking to do on realising its potential.
Its share of national income was below potential. In human development indicators, the region lagged behind western and southern states, he said adding, "the time has come for the region to take a great leap forward. This requires both hard work and creativity".
Citing a study by Bibek Debroy which said that if present trends continued, by 2020 Punjab would be where Germany was today, while UP would be where Punjab was today, Singh said "we must correct these stark inter-regional imbalances in development. One wonders where Gujarat and Tamil Nadu will be, but we cannot allow these sharp inter-regional imbalances to continue".
North region lagged "woefully" behind on human development indicators, he said adding "the region has to invest in its people. This does not require huge fiscal resources. It requires a committed political leadership".
Kerala has human development indicators that would be the envy of many developed societies. The time has come for States in northern region also to invest in people, Singh told the function attended by captains of industry and other dignitaries.