SETTING THE MOTION OF CHANGE IN UTTAR PRADESH
No sooner than the Samajwadi Party scored a tally of 224 seats in the 402-member Uttar Pradesh state assembly in March 2012, the decision to entrust the reins of the state’s governance in the hands of 39-
year old Akhlesh Yadav, was widely hailed as the ;rst signi;cant
move towards a much desired change .
1987, Akhilesh chose to get a relatively
more modern “rath” designed for his
journey across the length and breadth
of the state. And it was the “rath yatra”
followed by helicopter sorties, which
took him across to as many as 386 of
UPs 402 state assembly constituencies,
where he not just reached out to the
masses but also managed to send out
the vibes of a politician who was totally
grounded and came to be seen as the
young man next door.
If he was seen identifying even
smalltime partymen by their ;rst
names during the election campaign,
he did not change, even after donning
the chief minister’s mantle. Today, he is
busy lending as much ear to the plight
of the man on the street as he was in giving audience to leaders
of industry who had literally stopped looking towards the state
as any investment destination.
Extremely particular about ensuring his accessibility to all and
sundry, he threw open the doors of the chief minister’s residence
to commoners and the privileged alike–in sharp contrast to his
predecessor’s diktat to turn the entire area “out of bounds”
to all and sundry. With the passage of time, he has gone a step
further by doing video conferencing to monitor the action taken
on grievances of people referred by him to concerned of;cials
across the sprawling state.
Combating many odds , he has managed to set the ball rolling
for establishing an IT city in Lucknow, where he sees huge
potential for software development.
And to pave way for making the youth IT savy right from their
school days, he came up with a unique policy of free distribution
of laptops and tablets to as many as 4 milion students across
the state. It was a dream-come-true for the young chief minister
when he personally gave away 10000 laptops to the ;rst batch of
students at a special function in Lucknow. He has made it a point
to attend similar functions in other places, as a part of his larger
plan to distribute 1.5 million laptops to all students clearing Class
XII and 2.6 million tablets to those clearing Class X.
In a society where girls were often deprived of higher
education because of ;nancial crunch faced by common
Indians, Akhilesh Yadav’s policy of giving a special incentive of
`30000 to every girl seeking education beyond high school,
was welcomed as a revolutionary move. He is also the ;rst
chief minister to have introduced a monthly unemployment
allowance of `1000.
No sooner than he assumed the chief minister’s of;ce, his
mission was clearly laid out–to take UP out of its slumber and
transform it into a happening state. It was in ful;lment of this
mission that he not only re-establised dialogue with the centre
with which the state’s relations were badly soured during the
previous regime, but he also reached out to the industry that had
virtually given up on UP.
Making a beginning with an open house with captains of
industry at Agra, he also promptly responded to the US-India
Business Council for a meeting at his residence.
Realising the need for infrastructure development as a
prerequisite for attracting investment in the state, the young
engineer-turned chief minister has initiated fast-track road-connectivity between the state capital and each of UP’s 75
districts. His plan to connect Lucknow and New Delhi on the fast
track was also underway–by building a new 270-Km expressway
between Lucknow and Agra from where Delhi was already linked
with the world class Yamuna Expressway. This will also ensure
faster connectivity between Lucknow and entire Western UP.
Augmentation of energy high on his agenda, several initiatives
were being taken to promote new power generation plants both
in the private sector as well as the PPP model. He is very hopeful
of making UP self-reliant on the energy front by 2017.
Sure enough, Akhilesh Yadav was doing his utmost to live up
to the faith reposed in him by millions of people of India’s most
populous state. After a long spell of inertia, a beginning has been
made in UP that was for decades dismissed as “bimaru” (sick). His
sincerity and commitment, his acessibility and affability, together
with his grit and determination would surely prove to be the
architects of change–that would mark unfolding of the Unlimited
Potential of what is called UP.