Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is known to be a compassionate leader who has lived up to his image of being a ‘clean-face’. His political journey conveys how a least politically inclined person turned out to be a true development leader. Here’re some interesting excerpts from the political life of Akhilesh Yadav taken from the ‘Winds of Change’ by Sunita Aron:
In the bleak cold of December 1999, the two newly-weds Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple Yadav were walking down a Dehradun street when a phone call interrupted their conversation. It was Mulayam Singh Yadav on the line.
“Ghar laut aao tumhe Kannauj se Lok Sabha ka upchunav ladna hai.”
And that one call changed Akhilesh’s life completely.
Kannauj Lok Sabha Elections
It was the time when Akhilesh, a graduate in Civil Environment Engineering from Mysore University, was planning to move to Delhi to set up an ‘Environment Research Centre’, and Dimple, the daughter of an Army officer, was determined to stay away from politics.
In the Lok Sabha election, that year (1999), Mulayam had won from two seats Kannauj and Sambhal. The party leaders suggested that only a member of Mulayam’s family could retain the seat and Akhilesh’s name came up several times in the course of that meeting. As the BSP announced that it would field the senior leader ‘Akbar Ahmad Dumpy’ from Kannauj, party insiders thought of SP leadership going into a huddle.
The party’s senior leader Janeshwar Mishra (as sources say) convinced Mulayam Singh Yadav to field Akhilesh, saying, “Aise padhe likhe log rajneeti mein aane chahiye.”
After the formalities done, as media persons surrounded Akhilesh and questioned him about the party’s ‘dynasty politics’, Akhilesh looked nervous. Janeshwar Mishra then stepped in and said, “Yeh satta ka pariwarwad nahin hai, yeh sangharsh ka pariwarwaad hai.”
Mishra has saved the day but Akhilesh was quick to learn from there on. He toured villages and held nukkad sabhas and when the results of February 2000, Kannauj poll were declared, he was a clear winner and had defeated the BSP candidate by a margin of around 59,000 votes.
It was well begun but as Akhilesh, who is known to play both Cricket and Football, would soon realise, politics wasn’t an easy game.
Akhilesh Yadav – Emergence of a Young Leader
The Samajwadi Party, a party founded on Lohia principles and headed by dhoti-wearing, Hindi-speaking socialists like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Janeshwar Mishra, was hardly a party that appealed to the youth. That’s where Akhilesh made a difference.
Soon after he entered politics, he activated the youth fronts of the party and visited many universities across UP, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Akhilesh was an MP when he attended his first training camp for youth leaders in Jhunsi, Allahabad, from September 8 to 12, 2000. Mulayam and Janeshwar Mishra invited Akhilesh on to the stage but he insisted on sitting with the youths in the audience.
Two years after that training camp, at the concluding session of the SP’s national convention at Bhopal in 2002, Janeshwar Mishra declared Akhilesh as the national in-charge of the party’s four youth frontal organisations – Lohia Vanini, Yuvjan Sabha, Chhatra Sabha and Mulayam Youth Bigrade.
Akhilesh is still in charge of these wings and that explains the support he has been getting from youth workers till date.
Akhilesh brought up the idea of unemployment allowance for youth which was implemented by the party in 2003. After that, Akhilesh changed the way that SP treated campus politics, which helped establish him as a new youthful face of the party.
Campaigning for 2012
As state president of the party, Akhilesh in 2011 issued specific instructions for potential candidates that election tickets would not be given on recommendations alone, applicants would have to apply on a prescribed format and they would have to subscribe to the party mouthpiece, Samajwadi Bulletin. The party received nearly 3,000 applications, including for seats held by senior party leaders.
In September, 2011 while other parties were busy in ticket distribution, Akhilesh embarked on his Kranti Rath Yatra, across the state. He addressed over 250 meetings, covering around 12,000 km, some parts of it on cycle.
Mulayam sensed that the SP needed a fresh face and he didn’t have to look far. In the 2012 Assembly election, the SP, under Akhilesh’s leadership, won 224 seats, its first and biggest majority. At 38, Akhilesh cycled his way to a spectacular win for the Party in 2012.
So far, Akhilesh has lived up to his image of being “a clean face”, even taking on his father and uncles in the process.
In March 2012, the fortified bungalow on Kalidas Marg opened its gates for the people of Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of people could walk into the chief minister’s bungalow for redressal of their problems.
After 6 months of his chief ministership, Akhilesh Yadav had personally received 1.15 lakh appeals from all over the state. His officials had initially devised a method to keep track of all the appeals and the progress made, by issuing a personal grievance number to each person on the official website of UP government.
In this way Akhilesh diligently attempted to cultivate he image of the quintessential ‘Aam Aadmi Ka Mukhya Mantri’
Transforming Samajwadi Party into a Tech-Savvy Party
There was a time when the Samajwadi Party was seen as anti-English and anti-technology. But Akhilesh Yadav changed the image of the party into a pro-English, pro-technology and a progressive party.
On Mulayam’s birthday in 2011, Akhilesh placed full-page advertisements in a leading daily. The ads displayed the URL of the SP website, the email ID of the party, along with Facebook and Twitter accounts of the party’s youth wing. The ads were Akhilesh’s brainchild and it was clear who he was reaching out to.
Akhilesh distributed millions of Laptops to students and used technology to improve the public service delivery system.
Bureaucrats, however, say Akhilesh is refreshingly different from his predecessors in that crucial aspect. A former officer who didn’t want to be named says,
“It was not easy for an IAS officer to meet the CM. But Akhilesh is accessible to all. If an officer wants to meet him, he immediately calls him and listens to him. He does pull up officers, but the difference is, there is no humiliation.”
The future of Samajwadi Party lies with Akhilesh, a self-effacing man who has emerged as a development leader in the state of Uttar Pradesh. A perfect example of the generational shift, who has efficiently demonstrated his capability of governing the most populated state of India.