What An Act, ‘Netaji’!

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Apart from Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s act of blocking Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s passage to the premiership of this country, the veteran has hardly ever made news for anything that he did for somebody outside his large family. The squabbles for public consumption that saw Shivpal Yadav, Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav at one corner of the ring and Akhilesh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav at the other were not an exception. From a pathetic record of high crime, opaque bidding processes for projects in western Uttar Pradesh, negligence meted out to Purvanchal and Bundelkhand, when one is supposed to expect a general mood of anti-incumbency, the people of Uttar Pradesh — as much as others in the country at large — got sucked into this family drama, which serves no public interest. In ample measure, the dramatis personae helped thicken the plot. Consider the characters: if one pits a wheeler-dealer like Amar Singh and a questionable operator like Shivpal Yadav against anybody, the ‘poor’ adversary is bound to be treated as the underdog.

सिर्फ़ News has already pointed out that while journalists are expected to see through such machinations, almost the entire media has apparently knelt down under the weight of crores worth of Uttar Pradesh government advertisements that hogged television, newspapers and billboards alike until the Election Commission put in place the model code of conduct. It’s the same media that had welcomed Akhilesh Yadav 5 years ago as a messiah — owing to nothing substantive but his youthful charm, a departure from Mulayam Singh’s dreary comportment. Of course, Akhilesh Yadav hasn’t faced a disproportionate assets case unlike his father, but can the atrocities against women that were making headlines in the early part of this decade be all forgotten? How come the reportage has moved from routine lamentations and expression of shock over extra-judicial killings, rule of various mafias, abject poverty — and horrendous communal riots — to a sudden obsession with soap opera?

It is only a voyeur who would still be interested in the daily updates from Lucknow to New Delhi about one list of candidate nominations against another, a fight over the election symbol of bicycle, Azam Khan’s mediation, Amar Singh’s break downs and negotiations between the father-son duo. By declaring unambiguously that Akhilesh Yadav will remain the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in case the SP retains power in the Assembly elections, Mulayam Singh Yadav has announced his sannyasa like a Hindu king of yesteryears, handing over the reign and all its reins to the eldest prince after the reluctant vanaprastha of 2012. It will do the people of the State a world of good if they refresh the not-so-distant memory of the SP’s misrule rather than wait anxiously for the next episode of the drama of the wily Yaduvansha.

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