Lucknow: Akhilesh Yadav, who may be declared the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh tomorrow, has promised action against anyone from his party found breaking the law. “We will throw people out of the party if necessary to ensure to ensure that fair inquiries can be held,” he said. “I’ve asked our workers to remain calm and polite even if members from other parties try to provoke or instigate them,” he added. The fact that it was Akhilesh and not his father, Mulayam, who addressed the press is being seen by many as a sign that the younger Yadav may be named the head of the new government instead of party chief Mulayam, fondly referred to as “netaji.”
Akhilesh’ offer to act against party workers if required is not unwarranted. Since the 38-year-old powered a spectacular victory for his party – the results were announced on Tuesday – workers from his Samajwadi Party (SP) have executed a series of acts of violence. The most recent of these took place on Thursday in Ballia, an SP stronghold in eastern UP. Five women and children were allegedly beaten by SP workers because people from their village voted for a candidate from an opposition party.
On Holi, a Dalit village pradhan from opposition leader Mayawati’s party was murdered in Mansukhpura Agra, allegedly by Samajwadi workers. Six assailants stormed into his house, ransacked it, and then stabbed Munna Lal with a spear till he died. Nobody has been arrested so far.
Dalits in Sitapur say their homes were burnt by alleged SP supporters on Wednesday because they supported an independent candidate.
Those incidents come after a child was killed on Tuesday by SP workers who opened fire to celebrate their candidate’s victory in Sambhal in western UP. And at the same time, SP workers in Jhansi took a group of journalists hostage after they tried to interview an SP candidate who was trailing in his election.
Through the much-feted campaign that won him UP, as well as the days since then, Akhilesh has emphasized that law and order is big on his party’s agenda. During earlier terms as chief minister, his father, Mulayam, was criticized for shielding petty and hardened criminals both within and outside the party. Gang-organized crime and lawlessness surged. Akhilesh has however promised UP freedom from “Goonda Raj” and said, “We will deal with an iron hand with SP workers who indulge in goondaism and violence.”
Tomorrow, the parliamentary board of the Samajwadi Party is expected to announce whether Akhilesh or Mulayam will head the new government. While many factions feel that those who voted for the party actually voted for Akhilesh; if he is not chief minister, they say, voters will feel resentful. But old-timers like Azam Khan and Mulayam’s brother, Shivpal Yadav, reportedly feel Akhilesh is too young and raw to manage the complexities of governance of India’s largest state. Mulayam is reportedly working on building consensus among them to favour his son.