UP saw political power change hands in 2012

Uttar Pradesh witnessed not only political power changing hands from BSP to SP in 2012 but also a generational shift in leadership.

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh witnessed not only political power changing hands from BSP to SP in 2012 but also a generational shift in leadership with Akhilesh Yadav assuming the post of chief minister.

The assembly elections only reiterated the hold of regional players in the politically crucial state and Congress and BJP being relegated to the sidelines despite all out efforts by their national level leaders.

If BSP`s Mayawati paid for the numerous scams and ostentations on parks, memorials and museums, Akhilesh led SP in wooing voters from roads to the board rooms cycling around dusty roads to highlight the importance of technology, besides depicting a major shift in the party`s policy.

If Akhilesh won over the common man`s faith, his party`s manifesto promising freebies like laptops, computer tablets and most importantly unemployment allowance set in motion the massive success story of the party, which had in the last elections took an anti-computer and anti-English stance.

The stiff opposition by Akhilesh to re-induct the likes of D P Yadav in the party, despite a formal announcement by senior leaders, was hailed by political observers. It is, however, another story that he found the going tough because of the complex political system of the state.

Though SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav sought six months time for his son to get into the groove and political foes also exercised immense restraint, by year end Akhilesh`s inexperience started showing up and conflicting signals indicative of more than one power centre in the ruling party further complicated things.

If Akhilesh`s earlier decisions making a U-turn on closing down markets and malls at 7 in the evening to deal with the power crisis and allowing legislators to buy vehicles from their local area development fund were taken as signs of a resilient leadership, the inordinate delay in announcing sugarcane support price and lack of decisive action against corruption of the previous government were taken as examples of inaction.

Further complicating matters were off-guard statements by senior Cabinet ministers and political heavyweights like Shivpal Singh Yadav and Azam Khan which left the government red-faced.

Law and order situation saw a decline as the state witnessed eight communal flare ups. Some of SP men including ministers were found to take law into their hands as they brandished firearms in welcome meetings and rode on horses at a railway platform. The government also had to act tough and remove two of its leaders enjoying status of ministers -- Vinod Singh alias Pandit Singh on charges of kidnapping a chief medical officer in Gonda and Natwar Goel for beating up scribes in Lucknow.

Though timely action by authorities in reinstalling a vandalised statue of Mayawati at one of her dream project sites in Lucknow saved the government from a major embarrassment, the continuous cases of statues of B R Ambedkar being damaged in different parts of the state gave a glimpse of deep rooted animosity and intolerance.

Though the SP government tried to implement the promises made in its election manifesto, some others like a move to withdraw cases against some terror accused created a furore and gave ammunition to BJP to target the government for alleged Muslim appeasement.

It, however, withdrew cases lodged during the previous BSP government`s rule against farmers protesting against forced land acquisition in Bhatta Parsaul and also took a step forward towards fulfilling its electoral promise to put the massive buildings created by Mayawati for better public use by setting up women helpline office and a milk booth at one of them.

In a bid to assert its socialist stamp, the government renamed institutes, changed and scrapped schemes named after Dalit icons by the previous government, a move that invited sharp reaction from its arch rival.

With change of guard, investigative agencies went ahead to probe some of the corruption cases like in LAACFED (Labour and Construction Cooperative Federation) where allegedly huge sums were paid to ministers in the BSP government for acquiring construction contracts.

While a former BSP minister Badshah Singh was arrested, his colleagues Rangnath Misra and Chandra Dev Ram Yadav are on the run and some others are being questioned.

Another BSP heavyweight and Mayawati`s close aide Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who was shielded by the BSP government which set aside the recommendation of the UP Lokayukta for CBI or enforcement directorate probe, is finally on the mat with vigilance inquiry being ordered into the disproportionate assets case.

The sensational murder of deputy CMO Y S Sachan, related to the NRHM scam, reached an anti-climax with CBI filing a closure report in the court after 14 months of probe that forensic evidences indicated it to be a case of suicide, a conclusion which was contested by Sachan`s wife in the court.

The spate of honour killings continued, especially in western districts of the state, with the latest one of Abdul Hakim (28) in Bulandshahr district grabbing national headlines.

Hakim with his wife Mehwish, who had married against the wishes of their parents, had featured in an episode of Aamir Khan`s television show `Satyamev Jayate`. Support for the couple came from far and wide leading to the arrest of main accused and state government also extended monetary support to his widow.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi inaugurated a rail coach factory at Lalganj in her Raebareli parliamentary constituency.

The 18 lakh non SC/ST state government employees who had been celebrating the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Allahabad High Court`s decision to scrap the policy of reservations in promotions introduced by the Mayawati government earlier in the year were on the warpath against the constitutional amendment bill in Parliament bringing the government functioning to a standstill in several departments.