Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party`s celebrations to mark its one year in office in Uttar Pradesh has been dimmed by a series of law and order issues including the killing of a senior police officer.
With 27 incidents of riots and communal clashes, 380 kidnappings, 814 rapes and 2,257 murders registered in police diaries, the opposition is at its aggressive best.
Amid criticism, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted that the law and order situation in the state was "a matter of concern".
"There are problems. I admit that incidents can have a cascading effect on our efforts to improve the image of the state," Yadav told IANS.
Citing initiatives that he said had helped check crimes against women, he said "most of last one year has gone into bringing back things on track".
On the 27 communal clashes that have tainted his one year in office, Yadav says law enforcement agencies had identified the "political troublemakers" and would deal with such situations with an iron hand.
But he denied that the law and order situation had gone out of hand. And he said he had no "prem (love) for non performing officials".
The public perception, however, is different.
Raj Kumar Mishra, a college teacher, is pained at the crime situation. "What will I do of the bridges, good roads or industrial development if I am not sure if I will reach home safely?".
Housewife Aarti Agarwal is equally critical, and says the Samajwadi Party has become synonymous with goonda Raj. "It is a free for all, there is no sanity left, I am very disappointed with Akhilesh."
Bahujan Samaj Party`s Swamy Prasad Maurya, who heads the opposition in the assembly, told IANS that there was widespread anarchy in the country`s most populous state.
"What can you say of a state where even policemen are not safe and are killed?" he asked.
Central Coal Minister and Kanpur MP Shri Prakash Jaiswal said the killing of Deputy Superintendent of Police Zia-ul-Haq "had put a serious question mark on the government`s ability to create a secure and safe environment for the people".
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said the government had failed "miserably, specially on the law and order front".
Bharatiya Janata Party`s Laxmikant Bajpayi the government`s failure to contain communal riots betrayed the reality.
Congress politician Pradeep Mathur gave the Akhilesh Yadav regime 33 out of 100 marks.
Munna Singh Chauhan of Rashtriya Lok Dal told IANS: "Every time a SP government takes power, the rule of law turns into a rule of criminals and goons."
Samajwadi Party spokesman and Prisons Minister Rajendra Chowdhary brushes aside the allegations. The opposition, he feels, is "not able to digest the successes of Akhilesh Yadav".