The Politics of Akhilesh Yadav
LUCKNOW: The rather laboured and predictable spelling out of ‘Scam’ as the acronym for “S for Samajwadi (party), C for Congress, A for Akhilesh (Yadav) and M for Mayawati" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was countered by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav with, “Save Country from Amit shah and Modi.”
And this simple but effective counter perhaps spells out the politics of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who has risen in stature over the last two years, and virtually galloped in popularity over the last few months. His smile, and unflappable exterior hides a keen mind, and a quick understanding of politics that is evident from his speeches, and quick remarks.
What goes down particularly well with his admirers in UP, is Akhilesh Yadav’s exceedingly polite behaviour that was on full display when dealing with his father Mulayam Singh despite the latter’s open animosity, and again more recently at the press conference with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. He kept to a respectful ‘Rahulji’ even as the latter kept referring to him as ‘Akhilesh’ , and even though not given his due turn to speak, kept his smiling cool throughout.
This, say those who know him well, has been the young CM’s strength through out and one of the main reasons why the majority of legislators turned out to support him against his father in what had become a show of strength before the Election Commission for the party symbol. In keeping with old Lucknow values, said a senior party leader who has been close to Mulayam Singh, Akhileshji knows how to speak, and how to pay respect.
At the same time, after a hesitant start, where his father dominated both the party and the government, Akhilesh Yadav has come into his own. And he started a serious stint in government by moving fast on the development of roads, highways, and infrastructure across the state. This has paid him heavy dividends, with even his opponents in Lucknow, admitting that “he has done a lot of work.” The work is visible, as it has been extensive, time bound and quick.
This extended only late last year into a clear spelling out by the CM of his likes and dislikes. Although always opposed to Mulayam Singh’s on-off confidante Amar Singh, initially he had kept silent about this. When Amar Singh resurfaced a second time, the CM made his displeasure felt and dug in his heels --albeit respectfully---to insist that the corrupt and the criminal supporters of his father should have no place in the party.
Sources said that he had been in support of the alliance with the Congress from the very beginning and that he was keen to tie up the anti-BJP forces in the state as he truly believed that an alliance would work better to consolidate the vote. Not having a very good equation with Ajit Singh and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the CM had left it to the Congress to stitch this up but this did not happen. The sources said that it had been communicated to the Congress leadership that it could bring in the RLD if it so wanted by parting with the 100 plus seats left by the Samajwadi party.
Akhilesh Yadav has a good relationship with Rahul Gandhi, and in the recent joint press conference and the two joint rallies, has not even once indicated that he is the larger partner. And one on whom the Congress is clearly piggy-backing. Quite to the contrary in fact, making it repeatedly clear that for him the alliance was effective as it was a hand on the bicycle; a more generous and embracing attitude than that of the Congress leader who made it clear at the first press conference that the Samajwadi party government’s performance, while good, was not good enough.
The Samajwadi party is now counting on a consolidation of votes based on the young CMs popularity. He has taken away, and not inherited Mulayam Singhs legacy, leaving the father on the sidelines. He is the Samajwadi party leader now and while many credit those around him with the brains, those who have worked with Akhilesh Yadav in government insist that “he listens but takes his own decisions.”