Lucknow: Signalling a generational change, Samajwadi Party MLAs, Saturday, unanimously named young turk Akhilesh Yadav as their choice to take over as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The 38-year-old son of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav would be the youngest chief minister of the state. He would be sworn-in on March 15 by the Governor.
Akhilesh’s name was proposed by party Muslim face Azam Khan and seconded by Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav. The two senior leaders were said to be against handing over the baton to Akhilesh at this juncture but was brought around by none other than Mulayam Singh.
The official announcement from the party is awaited.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh had pitched for his son to be appointed as the next chief minister despite some senior members of the party being apprehensive about the move.
Party sources said that the senior leaders like Azam Khan and Akhilesh`s uncle, Shivpal Singh Yadav were not in favour of Mulayam Singh as CM.
They were of the view that Mulayam would be a better choice at this moment when there has been a sudden outbreak of violent incidents in the state, which it sees as a deliberate attempt to sully the party`s image.
The situation requires handling by a seasoned leader rather that a greenhorn in administration, they feel.
On the other hand leaders like Naresh Agarwal and Mulayam’s other brother Ramgopal Yadav have voiced their preference for Akhilesh.
Keen to present a united face, the party top brass left the final decision to Mulayam, who backed his son.
As per reports, at a late night meeting yesterday, Mulayam was able to ensure that those opposed to Akhilesh see reason in the generational change being effectuated in the party.
Azam Khan was offered the Speaker’s post but he declined and instead would get the portfolio of his choice in Akhliesh’s cabinet and would also be appointed the leader of the UP state assembly, reports said.
However, for that to happen, Akhliesh would take the Member of Legislative Council route and not enter the Assembly as an MLA. He is currently the Member of Parliament from Kannauj.
Akhilesh comes of age
Since the day Samajwadi Party won 224 seats on its own in the state, all eyes were on Akhilesh Yadav, who was in the forefront fielding the media and articulating the party`s views and strategies.
Akhilesh`s leadership of the party in the most crucial state in Indian politics has only come in for closer scrutiny in the recent months and run-up to the seven-phased elections.
An engineer by training, having studied in Karnataka`s University of Mysore, Akhilesh, 38, also had education in Australia.
This background helped him in bringing in new perspectives to the party`s policies. The party has promised free laptops for students and computer education, with a focus on educating girls, in the state.
Considered a youth icon with a judicious mix of leadership qualities, he had, during the high voltage poll campaign, raised issues concerning both urban and rural India such as poverty, agriculture, corruption and social evils.
The young Samjawadi Party leader had carried out an intensive campaign for the party in the elections, taking to the street on foot and on cycle.
He reached out to people at the grassroots through road shows across the state and sought to convey a message of being accessible and reachable.
Party leaders said Akhilesh reshaped SP`s thinking by going beyond caste mobilisation and sought to connect its campaign to the aspirations of the youth in the country`s most populous state, which lags behind in human development parameters.
Akhilesh also attempted to wash off the taint of his party`s association with criminal elements during its rule in the state. He vetoed induction of don-turned-politician DP Yadav.
Akhilesh had jumped into the poll fray in 2000 during a by-poll and won the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat, previously held by his father. Since then, he has won all the Lok Sabha elections from that constituency. He had also won the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat in 2009, but vacated it to retain Kannauj.