Akhilesh Yadav, after wresting control of the Samajwadi Party, may have silenced his critics, but as expectations run high, the big question remains – will he be able to live up to it?
It can be said with a measure of certainty that reassuring signals did not come by as he released the party's election manifesto on Sunday. Akhilesh Yadav had a vast canvas to cover, but he ended up under-utilising it by choosing to be soft on issues and just announcing populist measures as part of the manifesto.
Expectations were running high that possibly Akhilesh, who has been banking on the development plank, would be forward-looking in his electoral approach. However, his vision for growth, which has marked his five-year stint as the Uttar Pradesh CM, was sorely lacking.
Sadly, the manifesto boiled down to promises of smart phones, pensions, pressure cookers, etc, just the usual sops.
The opportunity could have been used to the hilt to clearly spell out his political philosophy, but it turned out, more or less, to be an expenditure management manifesto.
On the other hand, while Mayawati has been hitting back hard at the so-called “communal forces”, Akhilesh tried to refrain from the issue altogether, soft-peddling it and losing an important opportunity to drive home his brand of “secular politics”.
He also failed to adequately address the social justice issue and refrained from even making a statement on the latest controversies over reservation, which have been lapped up by his political rivals.
|Belatedly, Akhilesh has tried to be non-controversial at a time when he knows the party is fractured. Photo: PTI|
Despite the Samajwadi Party banking heavily on the Lohia legacy, issues of social justice did not figure in CM Akhhilesh Yadav’s speech.
In the wake of demonetisation, the small-scale and cottage industries are in shambles. Mass exodus continues, as rampant unemployment has become commonplace. Pensions cannot guarantee employment and even smartphones won't be enough to help people beat the ravages of demonetisation.
It is here that Akhilesh was left wanting in his vision for the future of growth of Uttar Pradesh, a state which has lived for long in the stigma of being known as one among the BIMARU states.
It is here that Akhilesh fell short of being the visionary who could bring UP back into the mainstream of development.
Mayawati, in turn, has been mincing no words in making her political philosophy understood by the vast majority, while Akhilesh, despite being in full control of the “cycle” has been caught trying to tone down on the raging issue.
He also chose to remain silent on SP’s alliance with the Congress and there was no mention even of a possible common minimum programme.
Belatedly, Akhilesh has tried to be non-controversial at a time when he knows the party is fractured.
But airing strong, uncompromised political opinion on issues of development, secular alliance, communalism and reservation is exactly what could have leveraged him at this crucial hour.