Seeking a chief minister

The cliche "too many cooks spoil the broth" is nevertheless applicable to the power corridors of Lucknow, where de jure leader Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who has just completed one year in government, is remote controlled by Uttar Pradesh's de facto leaders, his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and uncles Ram Gopal Yadav, Shivpal Yadav and Azam Khan, who are all ministers (except Ram Gopal). Can Akhilesh, once a darling of the national media and the most modern face in UP's first family, deliver?

In the 2012 assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party got a massive mandate, winning 224 seats and forming a government on its own in an era of coalition politics. Support was visible across the state and it went beyond caste, creed and region. Cut to 2013: the party is on the back foot, with its support base eroding. In just one year, voters have become disillusioned with the SP government because there has been no visible change in the state and no initiatives are expected on major fronts like the ever-worsening law and order situation.

So, whose fault is this? Is it Mulayam, or the uncles, or the bureaucracy or the police? The fault lies with Akhilesh himself, who is progressive, articulate and accessible, but also weak and ineffective. This, after all, was a mandate for Akhilesh, not Shivpal or Ram Gopal. UPites witnessing waves of change in neighbouring states rightly expected that under his leadership, politics in UP would turn towards development. But, according to the Planning Commission, among the low-income states, the GDP growth rate during Eleventh Plan was 12.11 per cent in Bihar, 8.93 in MP, 7.68 in Rajasthan, 7.27 in Jharkhand, and only 6.9 in UP. If we compare UP and Bihar, where Nitish Kumar has delivered despite coalition compulsions, it is obvious that the political leadership in the latter is in command, with law and order a top priority and corrupt babus feeling the heat.

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