WHAT MINISTRY PORTFOLIOS OF UP TELL US!

Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with maximum legislatives seats in Sansad (the Parliament of India) and in the state assembly, in a reform step (or in a corrective step), yesterday, dismissed some ministers and divested some others from his cabinet.

When Akhilesh Yadav had stormed the power corridors of Uttar Pradesh in early months of 2012 with a thumping majority, he had reignited hopes of expecting some positive change in the hopeless political culture of Uttar Pradesh – being dragged backward by a politics riddled with caste and religion – with no development.

The state saw hopes in a young CM, at 38, in spite of the past bad name of political excesses associated with his Samajwadi Party members.

Now, after almost four years, we can say it has been a complete letdown. We can safely that only the government changed in Lucknow, not the culture of governance. In fact, functionally, it got even worse than during Mayawati’s days. Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati was UP’s CM for five years before Akhilesh Yadav won the office in 2012 election.

We don’t need to write much here. A cursory look at portfolios of some of the sacked and divested ministers is enough to tell the story how has been the political culture in the state. Here is the list (the complete UP Cabinet list is even more interesting):

Sacked – Cabinet Ministers

Ambika Chaudhary – Backward Class Welfare, Handicapped Welfare
Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh – Stamp and Court Fees, Civil Defence, Registration
Shiv Kumar Beria – Textile and Sericulture Industries
Narad Rai – Khadi and Village Industries
Shivkant Ojha – Technical Education

Sacked –Ministers of State

Bhagwat Sharan Gangawar – MSME, Export Promotion
Alok Kumar Shakya – Technical Education
Yogesh Pratap Singh alias Yogesh Bhaiya – Basic Education

Divested from their portfolios:
(To be allotted fresh ones on October 31, i.e., tomorrow, when the Cabinet reshuffle takes place.)

Brahma Shanker Tripathi – Homeguards, Prantiya Raksha Dal
Iqbal Mehmood – Fisheries, Public Enterprises
Mehbood Ali – Secondary Education
Ramgovind Chaudhary – Basic Education
Awadhesh Prasad – Social Welfare, SC&ST Welfare, Sainik welfare
Parasnath Yadav – Horticulture and Food Processing
Raja Bhaiya – Food and Civil Supplies Minister
Ahmad Hasan – Health
Durga Prasad Yadav – Transport

So, there are quite innovative portfolios, even for petty functions like ‘Stamp and Court Fees’, ‘Civil Defence’, ‘Homeguards’ – there are different portfolios for ‘Social Welfare and Backward Class Welfare’, – clubbed portfolios like ‘Fisheries and Public Enterprises’ – various portfolios for Education, i.e., Technical Education, Secondary Education, Basic Education – and so on.

Obviously, most of the portfolios allocated in Uttar Pradesh don’t have functional spread of a size that require full time ministries – but as there are ministers – so there are ministries – with names that naturally bring a satirical smile.

After almost four years, Akhilesh Yadav has sacked some, and has divested some more, who will be given fresh portfolios tomorrow.

But there are many more with many controversies with them associated – and there are ministries like separate ‘Irrigation and Minor Irrigation’ portfolios, ministry for ‘Political Pension’, ministry for ‘Zoological Gardens’ and so on.

A look at the ministerial allocations in UP tells the emphasis has been more on accommodating as much names as possible than introducing a culture of ‘governance efficiency’ – and it reflects well in his government’s performance so far – and one more year is not expected to bring any change on the ground – even after this big reshuffle intended to give a ‘political message’ of ‘Akhilesh Yadav being more in control with a young Cabinet’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BADLANDS OF UTTAR PRADESH CONTINUE TO REMAIN BADLANDS

I remember an incident that goes 10 years back into my memory. I was returning to Varanasi from a nearby village in the Chanduali district. I was driving my bike on one side of the road keeping my speed around 50 Kmph. Suddenly, I found some voices shouting at me. When I looked back, I saw cavalcade of a local politician (possibly an ‘elected’ MLA) coming through. It had many SUVs and many more bikes. There wasn’t any road discipline. The vehicles of the fleet had covered almost of the width of the road and other vehicles coming from the opposite side had to leave the road to give pass to the cavalcade.

Though, I was not trying to be a hero but I felt it was wrong and I kept on driving on my line. I was already on the side of the road and there was enough of the space available for the cavalcade to pass and I thought they would adjust seeing that I was already on driving the side.

But I was wrong. Even if driving on one side, I was still on the road. I increasingly felt that some vehicle of the fleet would crush me if I didn’t take my bike off the road. Then, I suddenly felt a gush of dust and honking and don’t know how but my bike slid away from the road to the dusty patch of the open field.

The cavalcade that was driving at 70-80 Kmph on a narrow and poorly laid road of the rural Uttar Pradesh zoomed past me leaving me in a state of inertia of shock. The cavalcade, as long as it was in my sight, did the same thing with every other vehicle on the road.

This incident is a direct reading into the mind of the characters of many politicians who inhabit the power corridors of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Badlands of UP are now a statewide phenomenon with increasing number of tainted and criminal elements making their way into active politics and legislature.

The state has seen a sharp decline on this front in the last two decades. With dominance of issueless politics, the rowdy elements have registered increasing presence at the political forefront to exploit equations based on community and caste considerations.

Politicians like Raja Bhaiya are its living example. And he is not alone. There are many like Mukhtar Ansari, Amarmani Tripathi, Vinod Singh, Vijay Mishra, Abhay Singh and the list is long.

A feeling of dire hopelessness has crept in the state and it seems development and progressive politics are not going to happen any time soon.

It was this hopelessness that gave Akhilesh Yadav a landslide victory in the 2012 assembly election. He had to play it different.

Like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), too, has had a history of negative politics in the state promoting elements of goondaism and corruption.

But being a young face, a hopeless electorate saw some hope in Akhilesh that he would take a different stride away from the SP-brand of politics and will put the state back on the path of law and order and development.

Akhilesh Yadav is completing one year in the office on March 15, 2013 and that ‘some hope’ is totally shattered.

It’s not just about murder of a righteous cop in Kunda, where an already tainted state minister with dozens of criminal cases against him had to resign after allegations of conspiring to kill the Circle Officer of the state police force, the state has seen a flood of criminal incidents since Akhilesh took over in March 2012.

According to the media reports sighting the official state records, the state saw 2437 murders, more than 1700 cases of sexual assault and over 450 robberies during the first six months of Akhilesh’s tenure.  Another report in January said the state registered 1723 rape case in 10 months since Akhilesh took over. Since March 2012, the state has seen 13 communal riots.

It is not if the crime rate was more or less during Mayawati’s tenure. The state saw an atmosphere of overall decline during her term as the chief minister. Criminals and ‘criminal-turn-politicians’ ran amok. Corruption did every thing to be in league with the sky-high corruption of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Law and order took a nosedive. Development became restricted to Mayawati-themed statues and parks.

But Akhilesh was given the charge to undo that and so any comparison with the record of the previous government can never be a plausible reasoning.

One year might not be enough to analyze the state’s development under Akhilesh Yadav but the chief minister has not been even indicative of working intently to bring the state back on the path of development and issue-based politics.

Instead, the badlands are getting more frightening. Criminals and ‘criminal-turn-politicians’ are still running amok. No one is talking of development. The politics of appeasement and political corruption continue to have their run unabated.

Yes, no one had expected miracle in March 2012, but at least, there was some hope that the process of reconciliation with a progressive brand of politics would be given some serious consideration with a younger energy at the helms of the affairs. That hope has taken a serious beating.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/