What happened to UP’s aspirations for change?

It was merely 18 months back when the Samajwadi Party’s aspirational slogan ‘Umeed ki Cycle’ had wooed all the castes and communities in the state. They had come together to give the party a thumping majority which perhaps even Mulayam Singh Yadav, its founder, had never dreamt of.

People thought foreign educated Akhilesh Yadav, promising laptops to the youth, will stay off from the divisive politics that his father and his contemporaries had pursued. They had seen the past rules of all the parties, including that of his father, and wanted a change.

But it appears the young politicians are too tied up with the politics of their seniors to trek an independent path. At least that’s the impression that many of those who meet Akhilesh come out with, enthusiastic and well-intentioned but ‘caged’.

Today, the change-maker faces the worst crisis of his political career, that too at the time when he should have been shining like a star. Usually, anti-incumbency starts close to completion of five years tenure. Here people have started preferring rule of his predecessor Mayawati whom they had thrown out of power a few months back only.

Who would have ever thought that the demand for his government’s dismissal would start within 18 months of its inception?

I remember a senior BJP leader’s off-hand comment, ‘He is good boy. Will he join BJP?’ The BJP leader, like many others, somehow sounded sympathetic while saying, ‘They are not letting his personality develop. He looks caged. Why is the SP sullying the image of their vote-catcher?’

Perhaps rightly so! Though politicians know politics better than the scribes, perhaps a government that walked the path of progress even while pursuing its politics of caste and communities would have won him more support in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections than what his party would win now. The polarisation on communal lines may wean away even Yadav support as it had done during hey days of the Rama temple/Babri Mosque movement.

The time has come for Akhilesh to assert and prove that he can still be the change-maker. Only he will have to change the course the party has decided to take and this is not going to be easy for him. But at least he will have the satisfaction that he saved the voters if not the votes!

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