Free Akhilesh Yadav To Realise His Potentials
Uttar Pradesh was called Ulta Pradesh by the late RK Karanjia, the suave publisher-editor of once largest-circulated Blitz. A friend of Pandit Nehru, Marshal Tito and President Naseer, who had acted as an emissary of secret messages from Nehru several times, he called UP Ulta Pradesh after being given a short sentence by the Speaker of the State Assembly. He believed that his argument should have been enough to pardon in the libel charge.
In another Ulta Palta case In 1964 the UP Legislative Assembly put forward a claim to determine for itself the ambit of its constitutional power to punish citizens for its contempt. This claim seemed to have been advanced upon the footing that such power to interpret the Constitution on such a matter was itself a privilege conferred upon the Assembly by the Constitution. It sought to enforce this claim by ordering the production, by way of punishment, of two Judges of the Allahabad High Court in custody because they had entertained the Habeas Corpus petition of a citizen, Keshav Singh, and had passed an interim order of release of the petitioner on bail after the petitioner had been arrested on a warrant issued by the Speaker of the Assembly and sent to gaol for its contempt.
The Supreme Court said the constitutional duty and function of the judicial organ in this country, when a House of Legislature exercises a quasi-judicial function in punishing its alleged contempt, while determining whether a House of Legislature has or has not overstepped the bounds of its legal authority, is certainly vested in the judicial organs of the State; and, the Judiciary has to perform its duty, when properly called upon to do so. The warrant of arrest of the judges by the Speaker was thus struck down. The farce thus ended.
Anyway, since the 60s, UP has never been called Ulta Pradesh. Calling UP an Ulta Pradesh was the ultimate insult to a state which has sent six prime ministers to Delhi. But now what should one call it? Riots including the Muzaffarnagar’s have reportedly been over 30 in number, several rapes and murders have taken place in the state. The Chief Minister, the people must thank their stars, has admitted that Muzaffarnagar riot was a stain on his career and he would now tighten law and order machinery.
One wishes him the best of luck and success, yet one is not too optimistic. Except for riots, most of other crimes have been committed by those who claim to be workers and loyalists of the Samajwadi Party. There are also reportedly followers of a few senior ministers. They are mostly under the protection umbrella of their respective ministers. Unconfirmed reports claim they stride in the constituency of their ministers, as if they had the power to occupy lands and commit other offences including rape of village women they take fancy to.
Several rapes of Dalit young girls and women were reported. In one bizarre case, reported widely, a Dalit girl, probably a minor, went to a police station to report that she was raped. At the police station, she was raped by the station-in-charge. Was any action taken? Or was he one of the protected species?
One has a lot of sympathy for the young Chief Minister. He is well-meaning, educated and anxious to make UP an ideal state, because UP could be the platform for him to spring to Delhi. I met him in London when he, Jyotiraditya Scindia and others were staying at Crown Plaza Hotel on Buckingham Gate. I think they had come from New York after attending sessions at the UN. Scindia told me to leave my car at the hotel and accompany them in a mini-bus to the meeting of the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who was to interact with the Indian community. Some of us were invited to stay back for dinner.
I had a long chat with Akhilesh on the way. He was polite, but very candid in his talks. I pointed out to a person that he was a drag for Mulayam Singh and the party, to which he agreed. I believe, left to himself, he can do very well. True, he is new and a bit inexperienced but his father is one of the shrewdest politicians, from whom Akhilesh would get all the advice for a better administration. But his problem is that several colleagues of his father consider themselves senior to Akhilesh—he is bachcha for them. They don’t realise that they are in power because of him. But these ministers and party seniors run their own little “empires” in which Akhilesh can do nothing. He is helpless to control situations or happenings in these little suzerainties of the ministers, most of whom he
Thus, considerable areas in the state are “independent” from the Akhilesh government. But, if there are law and order problems in these parts, it is Akhilesh who gets blamed. This, however, is no justification for exonerating Akhilesh. He could have put his foot down and told the ministers that beyond a point they would have to fall in line with him. If a couple of them resigned, nothing would have happened. Akhilesh could go on the television and be candid about these ministers. He could himself, his wife and the good ministers could go out and hold meetings, telling the people the truth. The Akhilesh government would not only survive but would have run smoothly. Popularity would have returned.
If the worst come to the worst, the government fell, and Akhilesh could have claimed martyrdom. And he would have survived with his honour and credibility intact. Otherwise, the fate of the government is almost sealed. In fact this government has become so unpopular that with the credibility of Akhilesh eroding fast, it has no chance of being re-elected.
Mulayam Singh is depending on capturing 40 to 50 seats out of 80. That, he hopes, would help him to be the king, and if not, then kingmaker and wield power. This, at present, seems to remain a dream. The forecast is that it would be a miracle if he gets more than 15 or 20 seats.
Let Mulayam Singh unleash his son and let him fix his colleagues who are ministers. There is yet time for Mulayam Singh to realise his dream, if he unleashes his son and let him be chief minister on his own. Otherwise soon the Uttar Pradesh could again be Ulta Pradesh.
By Vijay Dutt