UP ‘headless’ as top brass on a summer holiday

Lucknow, May 1 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh’s top brass seems to have flown the coop, or at least the state! Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, senior ministers like Azam Khan and Shivpal Singh Yadav and even Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani, everybody it seems is living it up in foreign lands.

And the question doing the rounds here is, who is the political boss in Uttar Pradesh these days?

There are no clear answers forthcoming. Akhilesh Yadav has extended his foreign trip and has gone to London while his senior cabinet colleagues, Urban Development Minister Azam Khan and Public Works Department (PWD) Minister and uncle Shivpal Yadav, have flown off to South Africa to attend the wedding of a state industrialist’s son.

Azam Khan, who was detained at the Boston airport, returned from the US April 29, only to go to South Africa the next day.

The state, said some, is “politically headless”.

Chief Secretary Usmani, who had accompanied Akhilesh Yadav to the US and replaced him at the lecture on the successful management of the Kumbh Mela at the Harvard Business School (HBS), went to New York from Boston to be with his wife, who works for the UN.

While his work is being seen by agriculture production commissioner Alok Ranjan, there seems to be no one from the political executive to guide the government.

There are others travelling as well.

Minister of State for Science and Technology Abhishek Mishra, who also accompanied the chief minister, is staying put in the US where insiders say he has many friends and relatives.

N.C. Bajpayi, deputy chairman of the state planning commission, who was to join his wife and son in the US, also hitched on to the Harvard bandwagon and is said to be off for another one month.

Another state minister, Rajendra Rana, has also gone to South Africa.

“This is an absurd situation, never seen before in the state,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak, accusing the Samajwadi Party (SP) of trivialising governance in the state.

Congress spokesperson Dwijendra Tripathi was equally scathing about the government’s “casual approach” towards governance.

“They (ministers) are busy holidaying and having fun on foreign shores while the state is faced with power crisis, law and order situations and a host of other problems,” he said.

Even close aides of the chief minister admit that the situation is “rare and embarrassing”.

“While we are in touch with the chief minister on important matters, other matters related to governance are at a standstill,” a senior official of the chief minister’s secretariat told IANS.

With the chief minister, who left April 23, extending his trip till May 2, officials said the Samajwadi Party’s campaign in Karnataka, which goes to the polls May 5, may be hit and left to his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Mulayam Yadav has been out of the state since April 28 and has been in New Delhi dealing with the tricky equation with the United Progressive Alliance.

While technically no one was anointed as caretaker chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav had a long meeting with Shivpal Yadav before he left for the US. When the latter too went abroad, officials say the state was left rudderless.

However, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhary said the opposition should not be “unduly perturbed” at the absence of the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues.

“No work is suffering, all’s good” he added.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])

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