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‘Dad, ‘uncles’ hold reins of Akhilesh government’

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 14, 2012
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dad-uncles-hold-reins-of-Akhilesh-government/articleshow/16389242.cms

Six months into his term as chief minister, an overwhelming majority of urbanites in Uttar Pradesh feel that while Akhilesh Yadav may be the man in the hot seat, his father is a 'super chief minister' and 'powerful uncles' are spiking many of his decisions. That's the key finding from a five-city poll, which also found a marked dissatisfaction with the government's performance.

 About 72% of those polled felt that while Akhilesh may be the CM, Mulayam Singh Yadav is acting as the super CM. Nearly two-thirds, or 63%, felt that powerful uncles are getting in the way of Akhilesh's smooth functioning. Perhaps that explains the fact that 75% felt the CM hasn't taken a single bold decision in the past six months.

 The unhappiness is reflected in the fact that 42% of respondents said they were "completely dissatisfied" with governance and another 8% somewhat dissatisfied, against just 15% saying they were completely satisfied.

 A key reason could be that two-thirds of those polled (67%) said they were unhappy with UP's law and order situation. It would seem that Akhilesh's campaign promise to wipe out the 'goonda raj' tag often hurled at the earlier SP regime hasn't yielded the desired results.

 That should give Mayawati reason to cheer. She is widely perceived to have won the 2007 polls largely because people had become fed up with the terrible law and order situation under Mulayam.

But what about the issue that is seen to have brought about Mayawati's downfall — corruption? Akhilesh had promised to tackle corruption on a war-footing, but 43% said he has been totally ineffective, compared with only 10% who feel he has been completely effective. The fact that uncle Shivpal was caught on camera saying it was "OK to steal a little" and that nothing was done about it clearly hasn't helped Akhilesh much on this count.

 There is also a feeling that Mulayam is going overboard in promoting his kith and kin. Of those polled, 69% felt Mulayam is promoting his own family. On a wider scale, only 36% said this government is inclusive in its policies, 59% felt it's just taking care of its own voter base. Interestingly, the perception seems to be that the bureaucracy is more politicized under this regime than under Mayawati. About 40% said the BSP regime saw a less politicized babudom compared to 24% who said this government has been better on this count.

 If Akhilesh thought he had won the youth over with the promise of laptops and tablets and unemployment dole, the findings of the survey should make him think again. A staggering 74% felt that these one-time giveaways are a waste. With over 60% also holding the view that the Akhilesh government has not succeeded in attracting investment and 50% saying it has been unable to project a positive image outside, it is understandable that only 36% of those polled felt the government has been successful in living up to its poll promises, while 43% said it hadn't.

 The survey was conducted in Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad and Ghaziabad and polled those between 18 and 40 years of age. It was conducted exclusively for TOI by IPSOS, a global market research agency. Interestingly, on most parameters Ghaziabad and, to a lesser extent, Kanpur, seem to have a positive view of this government than cities further to the east.

Six months may not be a long enough time to judge a government, but the initial signs are disturbing from the SP's point of view, particularly given the level of its ambition for the Lok Sabha elections which are due in 2014 but could possible happen earlier.
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