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Akhilesh Yadav attacks Yogi Adityanath govt on law and order: What lies beneath SP leader's sudden anger?

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, now in its seventh week, may have given rise to a new work culture as far as working hours and pace of decision-making are concerned, but it has also given the much-needed pep to the Samajwadi Party and its leaders.

Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav was in his elements in Lucknow during his interaction with the media on two consecutive days. While on the first day, he lost his cool on seeing a mediaperson sporting a saffron shirt and also on being repeatedly asked about the continuing conflict in the Yadav family, on the second day, he aggressively tried to corner the government on recent incidents in Saharanpur and Meerut.

It is remarkable that in the early days after Adityanath took over as chief minister, Akhilesh had said that he would watch the government’s performance for six months and not comment on its actions. However, reports of over-enthusiastic legislators and MPs of the BJP clashing with police and administration have apparently made Akhilesh change his mind.

File image of Akhilesh Yadav. AFP

File image of Akhilesh Yadav. AFP

Poor crime control and failure to maintain law and order across the state was a major reason behind the widespread resentment among people against the Samajwadi Party. Adityanath seemed to have sensed this as he had cautioned partymen and leaders to desist from making unreasonable demands and maintain discipline. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had warned party MPs from Uttar Pradesh to stay away from trouble.

But recent incidents involving cow protection squads, protest demonstrations and rallies, and clashes with police especially in western UP seem to suggest that the warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The BJP MPs in Agra, Saharanpur and Barabanki, besides leaders at the district-level, have been caught in controversies related to threatening and intimidating police personnel.

While such incidents have given an opportunity to Leaders of Opposition parties, especially the SP, to corner the BJP over the issue of law and order, these have also emerged as a cause of concern for the chief minister.

According to BJP sources, the appointment of new Director-General of Police Sulkhan Singh and the latest reshuffle of police superintendents in several districts including Lucknow, Kanpur, Noida, Bareilly and Saharanpur, is aimed at tightening the grip over the law and order situation. But the over-enthusiasm of supporters and other elements who feel now it is their turn to break the law – much in the same manner as SP  sympathisers did for over four years – is making BJP spokespersons a little jittery.

The filing of an FIR against Raghav Lakhanpal, the BJP MP from Saharanpur, in the case involving a mob attack on the residence of the Saharanpur superintendent of police is cited by a BJP spokesperson as an example of the quick action taken in the case. “In similar attacks on police stations led by SP leaders in the past years, the police did not dare name the SP leaders, leave alone filing a case against them,” said a BJP spokesperson.

But the SP has apparently got the boost it had been looking for over the past four weeks when Adityanath's decisions dominated the news space. Even though the Saharanpur incident was contained well in time and did not lead to serious rioting or casualties, the SP sent a five-member team to probe the incident involving clashes between two groups over taking out Ambedkar Shobha yatra rally.

Even though Akhilesh has been trying to make it into a big issue, the Adityanath government is going ahead with the inquiry into various projects launched or commissioned during the former regime. It has withdrawn the highly unpopular decision to allow large-scale commercial activities in residential colonies in Lucknow and crack down on illegal construction patronised by SP leaders. Besides, the case against former minister Gayatri Prajapati has also been strengthened and inquiry into the Gomti riverfront project and the ambitious signature building Jayaprakash Narayan International Convention Centre is continuing. The much-hyped Samajwadi Pension Scheme and the free smartphone distribution scheme have also been put on hold.

It is likely that names of officers and political persons might come up as the inquiries progress, which may be embarrassing for the former ruling party and its leaders. This could explain the sudden belligerence of the SP on Saharanpur, Meerut and the so-called “saffron attacks” on police. The fact that the conflict within the party and the family shows no signs of abating is also not helping much.

Updated Date: Apr 27, 2017 21:32 PM

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