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Time starts now in UP

If Akhilesh Yadav wants to pull UP up by the bootstraps, he must foster an investor-friendly climate right at the beginning before he is hobbled by vested interests.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2012 21:21 IST
Hindustan Times
Samajwadi Party,Akhilesh Yadav,Uttar Pradesh

The quick and humorous riposte from the Congress that there is no guarantee that the sky will not fall on our heads to Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement — that there is no guarantee when Lok Sabha elections would be announced — should not detract us from the other part of Mr Yadav’s statement. He says that change should be visible in Uttar Pradesh and the SP manifesto implemented within a year, the date when he feels that an election may be upon us. Whether such an event takes place or not, Mr Yadav is on the right track. He has exhorted his son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to begin delivering, though why the young leader needs public prodding is unclear.

It has always been a mystery as to why UP, the powerhouse and crucible of Indian politics, has been neglected quite so much by successive governments. It has always been said to hold the key to who comes to power at the Centre, yet the state is a drag on all indices whether development or law and order in the country. While the SP has justifiably blasted former chief minister Mayawati for her inability or unwillingness to curb crime, it has got off the starting block with several MLAs who have criminal charges against them. Not quite the image that the young Mr Yadav should aspire to. It is inexplicable that he should have given the prisons portfolio to a man who has several charges pending against him. The other challenge that the chief minister will face is to curb corruption. It is said that nothing can get done in UP despite the Right to Information Act and other enabling legislations without greasing palms. Mr Akhilesh Yadav’s plans to videograph development projects will go a long way in eliminating some of this, but the problem is so endemic that to bring it under control within a year would be nothing short of miraculous.

The fact that the chief minister is tech-savvy and relies on computers and the internet to get his work done gives one hope that somewhere along the way, the fixers and middlemen who oil the wheels of corruption will be marginalised. His other major task will be to attract investment. Most businesses are wary of putting large amounts of money into UP owing to both crime and law and order. If he wants to pull UP up by the bootstraps, he must foster an investor-friendly climate right at the beginning before he is hobbled by vested interests. To this end, his father’s guarded ultimatum should serve a useful purpose. Political opponents should not focus so much on the SP leader’s predictions of early elections. Rather, they should keep their eye on how much the chief minister is able to deliver on his promises. If he can shake up the system and get the UP behemoth moving from the inertia that besets it now, then the SP certainly need not fear early elections.

First Published: Mar 25, 2012 21:18 IST