By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has completed 100 days in office. The Samajwadi Party was voted to power after defeating the Bahujan Samaj Party in the assembly elections held early this year. Akhilesh amid high expectations and hope took oath on March 15 as the youngest Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
He has taken several bold decisions during his 100 days tenure. ‘Janata Darshan’ programme, where the Chief Minster is directly accessible to the people for the redressal of their problems, is one of the several positive initiatives taken by him.
In order to project a clean image Akhilesh has made the declaration of his property and those of his family members along with the ministers of his cabinet. He has also scaled down the security of the Chief Minister and other ministers.
Other big decisions taken by the UP Chief Minister include construction of an eight lane Agra-Lucknow expressway. BRTS in Lucknow and CCTV cameras at all important places in the state are other initiative taken by the new government.
After assuming office, Akhilesh increased the age limit for appearing in state civil services examination from 35 years to 40 years. He has also decided to revive the students’ union in colleges and universities.
He has included 17 most backward classes into scheduled caste category and removed reservation in promotions in government jobs. He has started preparing the new industrial, IT, agriculture and other policies of the state.
However, the most talked about policies are the electoral promises that Akilesh made during the elections. After becoming the Chief Minister he has decided to implement them and had made budgetary allocation for them in his maiden budget speech presented in the state assembly.
He has allocated Rs 1100 crore for providing Rs 1000 per month as unemployment allowance to around one million youths in the age between 30 and 40 years.He has sanctioned Rs 2700 crore for distributing laptops to students who have passed XII th class and tablots to those who have cleared X. He has made a one time grant of Rs 30,000 to Muslim girls who had passed class X. He has made promises to construct boundary walls in all the Muslim graveyards of the state. A sum of Rs 200 crore is allocated for distribution free saris to poor women and Rs 500 crore is meant for farm loan waiver.
However, confusion prevails about the funds to implement schemes announced by the Chief Minister. According to estimates it will cost around Rs. 7,433 crore to the state exchequer.
Akilesh is pinning hopes on Centre to grant Rs 90,000 crore development package for UP. He has started mending ways with the Centre and has expedited projects in the Lok Sabha constituencies of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.
However, if sources are to be believed it was the SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has reportedly struck the deal with the Congress on development package for UP by supporting Pranab Mukherjee for the presidential election. With these decks were cleared for Akilesh to fulfill his poll promises.
With Lok Sabha poll due in 2014, the Congress is wooing Samajwadi party. It did not field candidate against Akhilesh's wife Dimple in Kannuaj Lok Sabha by- poll resulting in her unopposed victory.
Akilesh is able to strike a balance to keep Muslim votebank intact. The crisis arising out of ego clash between Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Ahmed Bukhari and SP's Muslim face, Azam Khan was tactfully handled by the Chief Minister, placating both of them.
The power crisis is probably the only issue that has played a spoiler in the euphoria that the government has generated. Akilesh is sensitive to this issue and has given power generation companies more time to start their venture on public private partnership basis.
The other criticism gaining ground is the CM is not fully incharge of the affairs and there are several power centres and he has to come out from the shadow of his father.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has succinctly summed up 100 days of Akhilesh. “The government has been able to establish its grip on the administration and the law and order is under control, corruption is also under check and people no longer talk of extortion by bureaucrats and ministers in transfers and posting of the government officials,” the SP chief said giving 100 out of 100 marks to the young Chief Minister.
The first 100 days in office is little time to cast a judgment on the performance of Akhilesh Yada as lot remains to be accomplished for the improvement of Uttar Pradesh. None the less the young leader has given the impression that is a responsive Chief Minister who means business.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]