He’s not even a year into office, but there’s already talk that Akhilesh Yadav has quite lost the UP plot. The assessment on the ground is that in the event of a snap Lok Sabha election, the SP will see losses and the BSP will regain ground. What’s significant is the change in mood in the nation’s largest state: many fence-sitters who voted the SP into its thumping victory (224 seats in a House of 403) now regret the decision, as law and order deteriorates, a goonda raj rules, and the CM seems to have little control. UP is a mess and there will be a political price to pay.
It seems like much water has flown down the Gomati since a 38-year-old chief minister was sworn in, one who, unlike his father’s rustic Etawah wrestler background, had even acquired a degree in environmental engineering from Australia. His simplicity, accessibility and above all honesty appeared to create an aura around him. His firm snub to dreaded mafia don-turned-neta D.P. Yadav added to the image. Akhilesh was seen as the Yadav scion who would finally turn the page in the history of the Samajwadi Party. His 10 months in office, though, have put paid to many of these hopes.
While most political observers blame uncle Shivpal Yadav and the many such “uncles” Akhilesh is surrounded with for the mess, others say Mulayam Singh Yadav himself is the biggest hurdle in the son’s path. Take the induction of ministers in the Akhilesh cabinet, handpicked by Mulayam. The 47-member council has at least a dozen who face serious criminal charges, including murder, attempt to murder, rape, extortion and assault. All of this naturally reflects on the worsening law and order situation.
The bureaucracy too is entirely of Mulayam’s choice and packed with those who were dumped (for varying reasons) during the preceding five-year Mayawati rule and those recommended by ‘netaji’s’ business baron pals, including the now slain Ponty Chadha, Ashok Chaturvedi, the Ansals and Sahara Roys. The coteries that played the system remain as entrenched as during the Maya regime.
The situation on the communal front isn’t any better either. The last 10 months have witnessed as many incidents of communal violence. What began with a Hindu-Muslim clash in Pratapgarh district in May was repeated in Kosi Kalan town of Mathura district in June, followed by a prolonged spell of violence in Bareilly. Shortly thereafter, similar tensions and violence erupted in Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad and Faizabad. The worst came in Ghaziabad where six Muslim youth were killed in police firing. (Of course, there is political capital to be made here also. The BJP’s Lalji Tandon says it’s all happening “because of the blind appeasement of minorities”.)
Former state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi blames it all on the “weakness” of the Akhilesh government. “He failed to take stern action against erring officials whenever communal violence broke out because he doesn’t have a free hand to run the government,” she says. BSP spokesman Swami Prasad Maurya flays both father and son: “There is a complete absence of governance in the state ever since SP came to power.”
Even among the direct beneficiaries of the SP, a common feeling is that Akhilesh’s stint has been “quite disappointing”. A senior bureaucrat who’s been a great fan of Akhilesh says, “I fail to understand what is keeping him from asserting himself.” Another bureaucrat offers the answer: “Sadly, he has been incapacitated by his own people.”
Ironically, none other than Mulayam himself has been critical of the government’s functioning. On at least three major occasions, the father has publicly voiced concerns over his son’s governance, even issuing warnings to partymen to behave. But even diktats issued by both father and son banning use of party flags or insignia on their vehicles have fallen on deaf ears. SP men have a free run, flaunting their links with the party’s bigwigs. “Intimidation of government officials and cops is an everyday affair now... they know no harm will come to them, that announcements made by netaji are meant only for public consumption,” says a senior police officer.
All of which leads to why Akhilesh is, rather early in the day, being described as a “majboor” CM. His father’s legacy is actually becoming his undoing. Ironically, it is on the strength of his son’s performance that the wrestler-turned-politician from Etawah is hoping to improve his Lok Sabha tally.
Apropos the story on Akhilesh Yadav (Sins of Our Fathers, Feb 11), do you think Tamil Nadu, which has two major political parties that are no better than the ones in Uttar Pradesh, still delivers better economics and development. Any thoughts? I deduce that this was made possible by state leaders from the past, who from the 1940s till the ’80s focused on bringing about social uplift, especially through education and a democratic dismantling of the old feudal order. In contrast, the feudal order still looms over Uttar Pradesh. But of late, Tamil Nadu has seen a strengthening of regressive and casteist forces not unlike the kind that blights UP.
Sampath Kumar, Bangalore
When Mulayam made his son the CM, it was evident he would rule through his son.
Parshuram Gautampurkar, Sawai Madhopur
At the National School Athletics meet in Etawah, CM Akhilesh gifted each participant a bicycle, which happens to be the symbol of his Samajwadi Party. Thank God the party symbol wasn’t a train.
K.S.C. Nair, Indianapolis
The people of Uttar Pradesh pinned their hopes on Akhilesh Yadav. Little did they realise what was evident from the beginning—that his father and uncles and their henchmen would continue to rule the state by proxy.
Pramod Srivastava, Delhi
UP will start shinning as soon as bjp comes to power in the state even in a coalition ala bihar. As soon as it goes out of power it will become backward. Same goes for every state even India.
Why UP is backward ??
Its one discussion that is quite close to my heart as I was born and bread in old Lucknow. Let me first start by saying that the Gangetic plain east from Delhi to Bengal, before British takeover of India was complete around 1857, was the most fertile, prosperous (even better than Punjab) and industrious in North India. 1857 is a year that is as important in Indian history as 1947. Although its been infamously called as the Great Mutiny but the fact is that it was the last armed stand that Indians - Hindu and Muslim united - took against the British. It is coincidence exactly 100 years to that pivotal battle of South Asia which turned the tables, that Nawab Sirajuddaula of Bengal lost to Robert Clive of British East India Company (EIC) in 1757 at Plassey.
Not just for the control of the territory, this battle was actually about the money in Gold and Silver that came in as part of the revenues from trade, a virtual loot. EIC had managed to obtain the dastak (permit) for duty free trade and to collect revenues in Bengal by a firman (royal decree) from emperor Farukhsiyar (1717). The returns were enormous from the flourishing trade in Cotton and Slik goods, yarn, sugar and saltpetre (Patassium Nitrate, KNo3 used in Gun powder).
However, to cut the story short, after the battle of Plassey with Mughals fading away in Delhi, the EIC had a virtual monopoly over all of Bengal (then including most of East Bihar and North Orissa). The UP was just next door. The farmers were forced to grow Indigo instead of traditional food crops and with the regular enforced payments of Lagan, they were systematically uprooted from their lands. The whole community of very skilled handloom weavers of fine silk and cotton cloth, between Varanasi and Murshidabad were starved as the company brought in cloth manufactured in English Shires. There were instances of even their thumbs being amputed from their hands that over milleniums had manufactured textiles that were taken to Rome by Gujrati/Arab merchants and later by early European traders to medieval Europe and Ottoman sultanate of Turkey.
The Awadh (legendary land of Lord Ram) comprising East UP and West Bihar was land of plentiful, culture and arts. The treasury of the Nawabs of Awadh was even larger than England and France put together. A truely syncretic culture excelled in music, dance, poetry, crafts and in its Varanasi Silk. A happy people who celebrated Diwali, Dusshera and Id togheter. Muslims enthusiastically participated in Ram Lilas and Hindus offered their oblations and sought blessings at Sufi shrines. They still do ..
Post independence, this land, India's soul was ignored and left behind by even those who claim they belong to it and come to get elected from here. But, Nehrus of Allahabad dont belong to it any more. They go there just to secure their seats in the parliament. The pahalwans of Etawah are just in plain simple straight forward language - Goondas and dacoits ...thats why UP is poor and backward ...
The reason why UP is backward and TN is not has to do with many factors.
However, the most important are Geography and History.
Even here Geography has been the determining factor for History.
UP, a state largely made up of the Indo Gangetic Plains has been the cockpit of Indian subcontinent.
Invaders came as marauders, raiders and destroyers.
Significantly, usually wars everywhere are fought between aspirants to position of rulers and mostly the general population remains untouched. Not so in UP. The plains allowed no hiding place. The warring armies would fight everywhere and with everything and impact everybody-combatants and non-combatants.
The rich farmlands also caught the greedy eye of those who wished to grab and hold.
Yet, the fact that it lay on the main trade route of India-the Grand Trunk Road-from Afghanistan to Burma and with the most famous ports Karachi and Surat at one end and Calcutta and Dhaka at the other, it retained it's importance through trade, and education. However,close association with Delhi through the Moghal era, as well as the British Era made UP people always think of Delhi and India instead of UP or Awadh as rightly pointed out by Abhinav in one of the posts.
But stability always eluded the citizens of UP and prosperity was something dependent on closeness or allegiance to royalty (Badshahs of Awadh and then the British rulers) and could be there for some time and be lost also suddenly.(Characteristic of feudal society)
Post independence too the politicians of UP always thought of governing India-they were successful too largely for a very long time. We have had the largest number of important politicians from UP. Region was not their main priority.
But this was not the main reason for decline of UP from being the one of the most important state of the Union.
The real reason was partition-which sundered the organic link for trade by raiing artificail boundaries suddenly turning the legitimate trade to illegitimate and illegal ones.
Families affected by this moved en masse to Pakistan or Bangla Desh. Many moved to Mumbai and Surat to set up their trading activities through the ports of Mumbai and Surat.
War with China too made trade to North impossible.
A very well connected trading route suddenly became land locked and devoid of genuine opportunities for growth and employment.
Ironically, the politicians of the state still kept on dreaming of ruling India with their large number of MPs little aware that the earth below their feet was moving.
The contrast with TN would be evident to you on a number of points which I may not need to go through here.
Sampath Kumar >> The reason being Tamil Nadu is a socially developed state compared to UP. UP still has strong feudal tendencies and has shown little development on social indicators. On the contrary tamil nadu atleast in the first 3 decades after independence had leaders who were focussed on social freedom and the oppressed communities found their voice.
UP and TN are 2000 plus kms apart. and so leave that comparison aside. Why is UP so much behind its next door neighbour, Haryana? Or how is that its hilly, northern neighbour Uttarkhand doing much better on various economic parameters?
#1, #13 and #15,
The reasons why UP Is so extremely backward and in absolute terms most poor state in India is because:
1. Population - 20 crore people, one state. If UP were separate nation, it will be 5th biggest nation in population behind Brazil and USA. UP's present population is greater than population of USA in 1960, less than population of Soviet Union in 1930s, less than population of British east india company ruled India in 1840. The state is so diverse. It is bread basket/rice plate/sugar bowl of India but how many know that in this state there is such an arid, unfertile region (bundelkhand)? Only language is uniting factor but if language is reason to make a single state, haryana and himachal should be merged into single state. The sheer numbers make it so hard to govern even by well meaning ruler.
2. Dynasty rule of Congress - out of 65 years of independence, 40 plus years went wasted with congress rule which ruled by pandering to feudal elite among upper caste and dalits and muslims and thus creating solid votebanks. In last 20 years, non congress rulers have ruled and infact things have bit improved. But unfortunately, BJP did not have sensible leadership in this state and did not get the correct vote bank arithmetic and then we had lot of time spent and only now we have a 2 party system SP/BSP and SP represents same rotten feudal elements as Congress of past and so there is no improvement. BSP is relatively better and Maya has relatively been better than the other worthless rulers who ruined the state from 1947..
3. Dependance on farming - Outside West UP, 85% of population is tied to farming and with no investment in modern farming techniques and reliance on pseudo socialist subsidy/loan waiver/support price economics, agriculture is unable to give good standard of living to the people. Sadly with severe power shortage and poor infrastructure, industries are also not going to employ people, thus perpetrating the feudal backwardness
4. Lack of state directed investment in social sector - Even BSP, a party supposedly pro social justice has not done much of investing time and effort and public money in driving schools and healthcare to remote villages and this ensures that the state rots in backwardness and people are forced to move to other states for self improvement and livelihood.
Now what is solution to improve the state? For one, good leadership. But it is time that the state is divided into 3 or more states and power decentralized from Lucknow. But not even a single one of our intellectuals are talking about that. The nandys the tejpals and rushdies and roys , these intellectual busybodies,why dont we ever hear from them about these subjects of critical importance?
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