When he assumed office in March 2012 as the youngest chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav was known for his focus on development and vision for the future, a much-needed change from politicians steeped in casteism and communalism.
Today, four-and-a-half years later, Yadav is known as a “roll-back chief minister’’. He has set a record of sorts when it comes to taking back his own decisions.This has created the image of a man who is either undecided, succumbs to pressure or does not weigh pros and cons before making announcements, all unenviable characteristics for a leader.
When he started his stint as chief minister, in one of his first decision, Mr Yadav announced the closure of all shopping malls at 7 pm and restaurants at 10 pm to cope with the power crisis in summer. The decision evoked public outrage and the order was immediately withdrawn.
The chief minister then announced that all legislators would be allowed to purchase SUVs for themselves up to Rs 20 lakhs from their MLA funds. The decision was shot down unanimously by all MLAs and the chief minister had to take back his decision. In his four-and-half-year tenure, Yadav has dismissed a total of 17 ministers, only to take back seven of them.
Similarly, a large number of bureaucrats have been victims of the chief minister’s indecision or inability to stand up to his decisions. “As soon as one of the senior leaders in the party disagrees, officials are shifted back. I have been transferred eight times in the Akhilesh regime because a certain party leader does not like me,” a senior IPS officer said.
A supporter of Yadav said, “His goodness is being seen as his weakness. He has been rolling back his decisions on the orders of his seniors, but the message that has gone down is that he is being run by remote control. Now, when he is asserting himself, the party is said to be in a revolt mode. We really wish that Akhilesh had taken this stand from the beginning and a lot of things would have been different”.