12 Reasons Why Akhilesh Yadav Has Failed
A single wailing cry rises from a frail, 80-year-old frame and fills up the mud-and-brick house in the densely populated, poor neighbourhood of Katra Saadatgunj village in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh. Sitting on the mud-caked floor, surrounded by other village women in ghoonghat, Ram Kali is mourning the gruesome death of her two granddaughters, Pushpa, aged 14, and Murti, just 12.
On the night of May 27, the two cousins were brutally gangraped, tortured and then, in a medieval barbaric statement of power, hanged to death from a mango tree on the outskirts of the village.
Saadatgunj may seem a back-of-the-beyond village in UP untouched by ‘modernity’. But it falls in a high-profile constituency, quite a bastion of the Samajwadi Party (SP). In the recent Lok Sabha elections in the state, Saadatgunj—a part of the Badaun Lok Sabha constituency—elected SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav, giving the Mulayam clan one of the four LS seats the family won in the state.
There’s a deeper caste link here. The perpetrators of the crime were five local Yadav musclemen. And the rape-and-murder victims, minor girls from the Shakya community, essentially Dalits. The accused arrested since also include two cops from the UP police, underlining yet again what seems to be becoming a hallmark of the state under Akhilesh Yadav, its youngest chief minister ever: Yadav oppression of Dalits and police involvement in atrocities.
Back at the house, in between gasps, Ram Kali squeals, “Chidiya ud gayi. Hamne badi mushkil se bitiya paali thi (the birds have flown. We had raised our daughters with great difficulty).” A collective sob escapes from the small group of women surrounding her. Ram Kali’s two sons, Sohan Lal and Jeevan Lal, walk around the house with a vacant look in their eyes, repeating, almost as if it was their duty to do so, the story of their daughters’ rape and murder to the stream of visitors.
A kilometre away from the house, OB vans from television news channels surround the mango tree where the dead girls remained hanging for hours after their death till the police finally registered an FIR against the accused. The villagers had refused to take down the bodies without an FIR being registered first. Now, the tree has acquired a memorial-like status, where visiting politicians make a stopover before or after meeting the family. Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Dharmendra Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Chirag Paswan, Rameshwar Chaurasia, Kalyan Singh—arriving almost as if on a conveyor belt. The CM, though, is yet to make a visit. A rude reminder of the fact that Akhilesh takes his time even to embrace a tokenism. What comes easily though are insensitive, high-handed statements to TV channels in the form of news bites. No wonder 65-year-old Jai Shankar says, “It’s a good thing Akhilesh didn’t come here. There would have been a riot.” In UP, sadly, the state administration has allowed much worse to continue to happen.
Hoodlum Square SP workers creating a ruckus on stage after Akhilesh’s swearing-in. (Photograph by Nirala Tripathi)
Within the span of a week, ever since the Badaun rape, there has been a string of reports of rapes from Sitapur, Aligarh, Tikri village, Panwadi village and Devrahat in Kanpur dehat. Meanwhile, insensitive statements from the SP leadership issue forth on cue. In Delhi, on June 5, Mulayam asked the media why those concerned about rapes don’t stay back in Delhi. SP leader and Mulayam’s cousin Ramgopal Yadav blames television for the rise in rapes in the state. Akhilesh himself attacks the media for highlighting rape cases only in UP, asking them to “Google similar such incidents in other states!” On one occasion, he even hints that journalists must stay quiet as long as they themselves were safe. Congress leader Zeeshan Haider calls it the “inability to digest the Lok Sabha drubbing. Akhilesh is an irresponsible leader.”
And to think, just two years back, at age 38, Akhilesh had arrived on the political landscape of the beleaguered bimaru state as a ray of hope for its electorate. He won 224 out of the 403 assembly seats in a campaign driven by his own forward-looking ideas promising a UP free of crime. It has been only downhill for the young man ever since. Jubilant SP workers running riot on the streets in celebration should have been foreboding enough. Then followed a full 100 cases of communal violence across the state in the very first year of governance. New as CM, Akhilesh buckled under pressure from the mining mafia and suspended bureaucrat Durga Shakti Nagpal for opposing illegal mining. The Muzaffarnagar communal riots in September 2013 not just exposed the CM’s lack of administrative skills but, worse, his apathy. Three months later, even as the national media wrote of children dying in the cold in shabby relief camps for the riot victims, Akhilesh was busy hosting the Saifai Mahotsav, including a Bollywood night in his home town.
What explains Akhilesh’s descent from young new hope for the state to a CM who couldn’t care less? Is he just a disinterested politician, doing a job that his father Mulayam has thrust upon him? Or is he merely an inexperienced administrator who is incapable of running a complex, layered state like UP? A bit of both, say senior officials in his government. “Akhilesh won the election because he promised people development and jobs, addressed the rising aspirations of the youth in the state, security and basic necessities like roads, electricity and water,” they tell Outlook. “What he didn’t know was how to deliver on those promises.”
And the problem, it seems, persists. “The gap between aspirations and Akhilesh’s deliverables is huge and gaping and the CM, with no experience of running a state, is failing on every count to better the situation,” sources confirm. A dominant father and his own sense of judgement seem to be proving his nemesis. The young Yadav runs a government based on the inputs of a coterie that mostly comprises his own friends from school and college days, with no knowledge base or actual connect with the ground realities.
On The Margin Akhilesh with Ramgopal Yadav, Mulayam and Azam Khan. (Photograph by Nirala Tripathi)
Not just that, his seemingly more uplifting ideas—a proposed IT park and cancer hospital in Lucknow, an agriculture university in Banda, 100 cow project scheme, metro in the state capital, farm loan waivers and medical colleges—were mired in the high-handedness of an inherited, hand-me-down bureaucracy, all loyalists of his father who decidedly chose to listen to Mulayam more than his son. It is in this, say sources, that Akhilesh faces his most difficult challenge. The CM’s office, they say, is full of Mulayam’s own favourite bureaucrats who work with Akhilesh but report to Mulayam. Prominent among them are those like Jagjivan Prasad, Arvind Yadav, Anita Singh, Shambhu Singh Yadav, Pandhari Yadav, Jagdev Yadav and others. Even senior ministers like Shivpal Yadav and Azam Khan take a cue from Mulayam’s own impression of his son, treating Akhilesh like a “trainee chief minister”.
It doesn’t help the CM’s image either when Mulayam publicly chides him for administrative lapses. In private, sources confirm, Mulayam complains to loyalists about “Akhilesh’s happy-go-lucky attitude and soft personality”. Says an insider, “Mulayam detests Akhilesh’s set of friends. Very often he says Akhilesh should be asked to meet more people than just the set of 10 friends he meets.” No wonder, Lucknow circles remember Mulayam openly criticising Akhilesh a few years back for playing cricket in the La Martiniere grounds with friends even though he had become an MP. What also comes in for trenchant criticism is Akhilesh’s insistence on standing by his friends or attending parties thrown by his social circle, earning him the moniker of “party chief minister”. This is perhaps why Mulayam has chosen to dictate terms. An insider recalls how Mulayam once ordered Akhilesh to leave a meeting with Uma Bharti, then an MLA from the state, to instead meet a senior journalist from Delhi visiting Yadav Sr. In another much-publicised rebuke, Mulayam told Akhilesh to pull up his socks as CM. Mulayam’s writ, therefore, appears large in UP politics. A writ that has done more damage to Akhilesh’s initial image of a well-meaning scion than any criticism from the media.
Nude War Women lawyers outside Kerala HC protest the attack on a woman judge in UP. (Photograph by Sivaram V.)
In fact, so badly hemmed in is Akhilesh by his father’s politics and his loyalists that the joke going around in Lucknow circles is that the state has four-and-a-half CMs. Akhilesh forms only half of the 4.5 figure, the other four include Mulayam, Shivpal, Ramgopal Yadav and Azam Khan. No wonder, few in the party listen to Akhilesh’s orders or accept his authority. So bad is the leadership deficit, insiders let on, that many senior ministers turn up late for cabinet meetings, much after Akhilesh has arrived, only to avoid standing up for the CM when he arrives. Credit goes to Akhilesh for making the CM’s office far more accessible than in his predecessor Mayawati’s time, but insiders lament that UP now abounds with regional power centres.
Burning Questions Young girls protesting against the Badaun rapes in Lucknow. (Photograph by Nirala Tripathi)
The fault perhaps lies in the nature of the man himself. He is not cut out for UP’s realpolitik. “He is too polite, too obedient, too soft and too respectful,” says an insider. “Politics for him is not what his father’s generation espoused. UP requires a bit of an iron hand manipulator; that Akhilesh can never be.” He does seem to have woken up from deep slumber in the week that followed the Badaun case. So there have been surprise checks, suspensions, transfers and even new orders that no policemen shall be posted in their home districts. Akhilesh, his close aides say, means business now. Many in the state believe that, with the Lok Sabha polls behind him, Akhilesh will no more be burdened by his father’s prime ministerial aspirations and may finally have a free hand in running the state. Political analyst Professor Sudhir Panwar believes “Akhilesh has personal integrity and a sense of responsiveness. Changes initiated by him in his administrative and political team will infuse new ideas and energy into the working of the government. The state needs it.”
With three years still left till the next assembly polls, Akhilesh has time to turn around what for now seems a damned state. Until then, the cycle will have to pull through the rough and tumble of UP despite the twisted spokes and punctured wheels.
By Prarthna Gahilote in Badaun and Lucknow
Thank you Outlook for joining the BJP bandwagon. From hailing NaMo Nation, Supremodi, Maximum Modi to declaring Akhilesh Yadav as ‘India’s worst chief minister’ (June 16), it is a clear attempt to establish Narendra Modi as the only worthwhile leader in the country. You have used the unfortunate Badaun incident to paint Akhilesh black. The truth, however, is that the gruesome gangrape-hanging was a criminal act, not the result of a political failure. The Uttar Pradesh CM, on his part, has referred the case to the cbi for an impartial inquiry. Why pull him up for his mild-mannered ways and respect for elders? Mulayam is not only his father but also the Samajwadi Party president and it is up to him to decide what is best for the party and its rule in the state. Law and order in UP is in perennial crisis, it’s no sudden aberration. The bias in the national media against regional leaders clearly shows they care only about the government of the day in Delhi.
Sukhwinder Singh, Yamuna Nagar
Till local administration is freed of the grip of SP functionaries, who are mostly goondas, and postings are decided on the basis of merit rather than caste or bribe, UP will suffer.
With its 200 million people, UP would qualify to be one of the largest nations in the world. Exceptionally, given its mosaic of caste and religion, its people gave a simple majority, first to Mayawati in 2007 and then to the young Akhilesh in 2012, who held out the promise—though on a more modest scale—that Rajiv Gandhi did in 1984. Many will feel bad that Camelot has ended so badly.
Ashok Lal, Mumbai
Thrown at the deep end of the political swimming pool by his dominating father, Akhilesh seems to be sinking rather than swimming. It does not bode well for the state that has for long been ruled by fickle leaders like Mulayam and Mayawati, and now Mulayam again through his son as proxy.
H.C. Pandey, Delhi
The state has to be broken up into four or five smaller ones for some kind of effective governance. It plays too important a political role with no value addition politically or in other way. msy and his ilk must be thrown out of the state. They have been given authority without being held responsible. The state deserves better.
Shankar Narayanan Ram, Chennai
All countries have their horrors, but India exposes to the world—with amazing regularity—its gruesome treatment of women, each incident complicated by caste and class and a brand of conniving lawlessness peculiarly its own.
Meghana A., New South Wales
If Akhilesh has a casual, easygoing attitude and lacks a strong personality, how come his ‘Delhi-eyeing’ father thrust the chief ministership of a state on him? Now one knows where and with whom the blame lies!
Soli Canteenwala, Mumbai
Good to see all four chief ministers in one picture.
Sushant Kumar, Sydney
Mulayam thought he could get away with his ‘ayyashi’ and goondaism by putting up this front of an educated son and daughter-in-law. But people have not been taken in. His son has been exposed as a spineless wimp who has squandered the opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference. Just shows that good schooling is not the same as getting educated—he may have gone to schools with big names and earned many degrees, but if they did not improve his moral timbre, they are not worth toilet paper.
Rajesh Chary, Mumbai
You have been kind in labelling Akhilesh as an inexperienced colt hemmed in by his father. The fact is that he belongs to a privileged class and is an arrogant brat, a trait shared by children of bureaucrats and politicians who think they own the country. Just see how they behave on the roads and you know what they are about. Which is why when one of these brats is entrusted with a responsible job, he promptly makes a complete mess of it. India will never do well till it gets rid of its vip culture.
Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh
Mulayam’s problem is that he got his son a political degree first and then compulsively started teaching him how to read what’s written on it.
Rajneesh Batra, Delhi
And to think Outlook ran a consistent campaign running Gujarat down.
Maha, New Jersey
Will the real CM of UP please stand up?
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
India’s worst CM? Mamata Banerjee can beat Akhilesh hands down anytime.
Pradip Singh, Stafford, UK
Your cover story reflected the sad state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh, a state that requires a mature and capable politician at the helm, not someone like the greenhorn Akhilesh, who is driven by the instructions of his father, uncles and other powerful figures in the Samajwadi Party. I’m horrified to think what will happen if someone like Mulayam becomes prime minister.
Kondahalli Shankar, on e-mail
The media campaign against the Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government was expected. After the BJP’s victory, the Brahminical elite are out to demolish any remaining OBC power centre. All I hear is talk of the breakdown of law and order: nothing can be more vague or non-specific than that, for I’m yet to see statistics showing that law and order in Uttar Pradesh is any worse than in other states.
Rajesh Chandra, Phoenix, US
The administration in UP has deteriorated so much that it’s time for the Centre to intervene. It can’t be waiting and watching while the people of UP suffer and young girls are brutalised like this.
Ranjit Sinha, Calcutta
You are too kind to label Akhilesh as inexperienced and hemmed in by his father. The fact is that he belongs to a privileged class and is an arrogant brat, a trait which is shared by children of bureaucrats and politicians who think they own the country. Just see them on the roads and you will know how they behave towards others. When such a brat is given the Chief Minister's job, you can well see what happens. Akhilesh is a blot on all young people, a blot on the country which has not been able to get over the VIP culture and gives such spolied children responsible jobs.
USA has the poplation of 30 crores, which is similar to UP's poplation (20 crores). According to FBI statistics, there were 15000 mrders and 84000 rapes in the US last year , which is significantly higher than UP's statistics. Rapes may be Under reported bt bodies cannot be hidden.
The whole boohaaha of Akhilesh Yadav's governance or misgovernance is yet another BJP/RSS propoganda.
Thanks to 'Outlook' for joining media bandwagon of BJP.The coverpage and coverstory like Namonation,SuperModi,The Shah of Shahs,Maximum Modi and now 'India's worst Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav' is a continuity and pointer too that how Outlook is eager to establish Modi and Shah the only leader of this country.The reason to tag Akhilesh as India's worst Chief Minister is mainly the unfortunate incidence of Badaun.The Badaun incidence however it may be gruesome is a criminal incidence and not the political failure,the Chief Minister took all the steps to prevent the recurrence and referred the case to CBI for impartial enquiry.The reasons enumerated by reporter/columinist are only sufficient to prove that Akhilesh is a well mannered politicians and inflenced by senior leaders of his own party.Mulayam Singh is not only his father but National President of amajwadi Party and it is the choice of Chief Minsiter who he think useful for him may appoint as secretaries.The law and order problem in U.P and other cow belt states is a continuity and not the aberration.The bias in media against regional leaders clearly shows that Delhi care only for Government of the day that too at Delhi.
Mulayam thought he could get away with his usual ayyashi and goonda gardi by putting a front of his young educated son/daughter-in-law. But he has been taught a good lesson by the people. His son is a spineless wimp and has squandered an opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference. Just shows good schooling is not the same as getting educated - he may have gone to schools with big names and earned many degrees, but if it did not improve his moral timbre, it is not worth toilet paper.
Good to see all the four chief ministers in one picture.
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