When the CM Bats, Babus scurry for cover!
The UP bureaucracy couldn’t have asked for more. Having spent five years in a claustrophobic atmosphere under Mayawati, they finally got to breathe free on the historical La Martiniere grounds last Sunday.
The occasion was the first CM’s XI vs IAS XI cricket match, played in full sports gear during the IAS Association Week, held after a big gap of six years.
And the cheering teams included CM’s wrestler father Mulayam Singh Yadav, his wife Dimple Yadav and his three children. The initiative was that of the 39-year-old chief minister, who played to the gallery before the friendly match, telling the bureaucrats to introspect why their image had taken a beating in the last few years.
The message to the bureaucrats, who have not been cooperating with a young chief minister, was clear, ‘You want a bat or a baton, and it’s your choice.’
‘My humility should not be mistaken as my weakness,’ he told them.
Before Akhilesh, SP patriarch Mulayam too had asked the officers to deliver or face music.
Thus many officers and their wives thought the match was a mere formality to break the ice or, as some said, ‘repair the relationship’. But once on the cricket ground, the sportsman in Akhilesh came alive as he bowled many over, first with his batting skills and later with the ball. As it was a ‘fun game’, he got away with some extra overs too.
Chief secretary Javed Usmani pepped up the morale of the officers. The CM team included ministers like Raghuraj Pratap Singh and Abhishek Mishra.
But as expected the bureaucrats lost. Intentionally or otherwise, they helped the CM and his team to win the trophy. Their wives were quick to find an alibi in the ‘pressure’ under which their husbands played.
The CM’s XI won, but, as an IAS officer said: “No one really lost. The game was played for a cause.”
Was the match fixed? Alok Ranjan, the President of the IAS Association, said, ‘No, not all.’