It was a good day for UP and even a better day for India when the results were announced last week for the UP assembly elections.
Mayawati, the former chief minister, who had a zero asset base when she joined politics and who is worth Rs. 111.64 crores today was kicked out of the office by the public and they brought Samajwadi party back into power with a thumping majority. Mayawati, who claims to represent the poorest of the state's poor Dalits was worth Rs. 52.27 crores in 2007 and Rs. 88 crores in 2010. Even though Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi party led by his son Akhilesh Yadav recorded a massive victory by winning 224 out of 403 seats, it would be a fair statement to make that it was basically more a vote against Mayawati and less a vote for Samajwadi party. It was a vote against corruption and misrule.
The public definitely showed their positive feelings for Akhilesh Yadav who worked very hard to win the confidence of the public and making a connection with them. There is no doubt that it was also a victory for Akhilesh Yadav. It is a welcome change that someone like him who has a very good educational background and whose statements resonate with the requirements of the modern society and who also got a chance to get some prudent political training is at the helm of affairs.
Even though I am against dynastic politics, I am very much in support of Akhilesh Yadav. Some people try to use his foreign education to go against him. He is not only foreign educated but he had a decent education before he went to Australia. It is a disservice to Akhilesh to call him foreign-educated. He has a Sainik school education - still considered in many parts of India as the most disciplined schooling that a young boy can get. He studied at the Sainik School in Dhaulpur, Rajasthan. Akhilesh then did his Bachelor of Engineering and Masters of Engineering in Civil Environment Engineering at the University of Mysore in Karnataka. Only then did he get his "foreign education" - a Masters degree in environmental engineering from the University of Sydney in Australia.
When Samajwadi party got only 24 seats in 2009 parliamentary elections (11 short of 2004 elections), the father turned to the son for the resuscitation of the party. In June 2009, Akhilesh Yadav was made the president of the party. On his way to the spectacular victory of March 6, 2012, the younger Yadav had to remodel the party's image, step on many toes, pump in ideas that seemed antithetical to the SP way of thinking.
Since UP is the largest state in the country with 80 Lok Sabha seats and the assembly election results was perceived as a precursor to the 2014 parliamentary elections, all the political parties descended on the state with their star campaigners. All of them worked very hard and the public weighed their options and instead of UP getting a hung assembly, they were pragmatic enough to vote just one party in power. They not only defeated Mayawati but also went for a stable government. The hard work of Akhilesh Yadav over the last year or so paid off when his party got a record 224 out of 403 seats. The quintessential local boy, who was born here and has learnt his politics on the dusty '˜kuchcha' roads of the UP heartland, is the new UP Chief Minister. Akhilesh traveled about 10,000 km and held 800 rallies in UP over the last six months.
Even though Mayawati lost the elections, she came back with an impressive number of 80 seats. On the other hand, both the so called national parties just could not sell their message and ended up with just 47 seats (BJP) and 37 seats (Congress). The most humiliating defeat was for the BJP candidate in Ayodhya, the proposed site for Ram Mandir, when BJP's Lallu Singh, who was winning the seat since 1991 state elections, lost to a young student leader Tej Narain Pandey of Samajwadi Party with a margin of about 5,700 votes. BJP lost the temple town of Ayodhya, considered to be its bastion since 1991, from where it spearheaded the Ram temple movement which catapulted the party into power at the Centre. A very severe humiliation was also inflicted on the Congress party when they lost 8 of the 10 assembly seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi which are a part of the parliamentary seats for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Even a day before the counting of votes, Priyanka Gandhi was claiming to get 10 out of 10 seats in Rae Bareli and Amethi.
There is no doubt that the election results in UP is sending a message to the entire country, loud and clear, that the role of religion in politics is as unacceptable as the role of the Gandhi family as a political dynasty. The young India wants a total separation of religion from politics. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi campaigned with full zeal in Bihar in 2010 and UP in 2012 and they got only 4 seats (4 out of 243) in Bihar and 37 (37 out of 403) in UP. Rahul Gandhi's theatrics of going to Dalit families and having food with them did not impress them enough to vote for his party. The way Rahul Gandhi was going to Dalit families to share their food, I would not be surprised if the mothers were forcing their children to have the food as soon as it was cooked because they were scared that Rahul baba (a nickname given to him by the sycophants of his party) would come and not only eat their food but also ask for their vote.
They liked Priyanka Gandhi's appearance but again, not strong enough to vote for her party. It seems that the political dynasty of the family is on its last legs. The brand name Gandhi has lost its value and their claim to rule the country has been deemed malafide by the Indian public. The country has grown and matured politically and the prince and princess of the party may have to look for another profession. A senior member of the party told me that some members of the party would do their best to keep the Gandhi name alive in politics because it gives them their '˜roji-roti'. I feel that it is a little too late to bring Priyanka Gandhi in as a full time politician because the public perception would be that since Rahul failed miserably, the party is now imposing Priyanka on us.
The massive mandate for Akhilesh Yadav is a mandate for accountability, governance and transparency. I must congratulate Mulayam Singh Yadav for letting Akhilesh become the CM because he was perceived as an agent of change and face of the party and if Mulayam had become the CM, it would have betrayed the confidence of the public. Moreover, there are some bad memories associated with Mulayam's rule in UP. We cannot talk of change and have the status quo government. This election has the potential to change the political paradigm and political landscape of the country. The country is counting on people like Akhilesh to give politics a good name. He should stay away from sycophants and political chamchas who use their political contacts to make money...He should stay away from the breed of those bureaucrats who concentrate less on their professional duties and more on hobnobbing with politicians to get a posting of their choice and make money...I know bureaucrats who spends so much time with politicians that it is hard to fathom that they are bureaucrats and not politicians.
I can understand people with not much education trying to ride the coattails of a politician to make money but it is sheer pathetic to see a person coming through the UPSC exam to become a '˜darbari' of a politician. It is even more ironical that these kind of morally bankrupt people do not miss a chance to give a speech on character and morality. The key word for Akhilesh should be deliverance...there should be no room for mediocrity. There should be no political vendetta against Mayawati...she messed up and the public punished her. Our politicians are '˜Batton ke Badshah', Akhilesh has to do things to change this perception. He should not bask in the glory of the election results. The same public which elevated him to become the CM can also bring him down.
Efficiency is a relative term but honesty is not. He should not compromise at all on honesty and transparency in his administration. It is very sad that a global magazine called Business Insider has named 23 richest politicians in the world and they have ranked Sonia Gandhi as number 4 saying that her assets could be as high as $19 billion. The quantitative aspect of the election process is over and he got 224 seats...he has to now concentrate on the qualitative aspect and deliver. He has to translate the quantitative aspect to bring the state out of a political morass. It is now essential to change the political character of the country...we need a complete revolution of our political system and states like UP, Bihar and others could be the launching pad for this arduous task. We wish Akhilesh Yadav and his team all the best on this difficult and challenging journey.
Akhilesh Yadav has a very big task on his shoulders and even though he is entitled to some celebration, it is too early to open a bottle of champagne.