Team Akhilesh

Akhilesh Yadav formally took over the reins of UP on Thursday when he was sworn in as chief minister with a team of 47 ministers, most of them Mulayam Singh Yadav loyalists. Among them was the controversial Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya who has been booked under POTA and has several cases pending against him. As the team didn’t quite inspire confidence after Akhilesh’s promise of providing clean politics in the state, many wondered whether Akhilesh has had a free hand in picking his ministry. Only one member of the so-called Team Akhilesh—IIM-Ahmedabad’s former professor Abhishek Mishra—has been picked as a minister of state. The size of the ministry is small compared to Mulayam’s jumbo-sized 98-member cabinet, but it is still much larger than initial estimates as Akhilesh himself had talked about a small team. Doubts are being raised about the Samajwadi Party’s intentions to check crime and criminals as 28 out of 47 ministers have criminal cases against them, even though a number of these cases could be political in nature. The oath-taking ceremony was attended by political bigwigs, among them Union minister Pawan Bansal and veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora. Several political bigwigs attened Akhilesh Yadav’s oath taking ceremony. There were Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury of CPM and A B Bardhan of CPI which made political pundits wonder whether Mulayam was cosying up to the Left for the possible formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP political front. At a ceremony at the La Martiniere school grounds, 19 cabinet ministers were inducted and 28 ministers of state. While the SP was successful in shedding its anti-English, anticomputer image under Akhilesh during the election campaign, he will still have to explain the inclusion of the likes of Raja Bhaiya and Mahmoob Ali, who faces 15 criminal cases. Akhilesh later defended Raja Bhaiya’s inclusion saying he had been a minister before. Also, glimpses of the old SP were on display at the ceremony as hundreds of SP workers climbed on to the stage as soon as the ceremony ended to trigger a free-for-all. Akhilesh then went to the CM office to take charge and later addressed a news conference at 5, Kalidas Marg –official residence of the UP CM – where he promised to implement all promises made in party manifesto. UP’s Samajwadi Party government cleared sops promised in its manifesto within hours of taking over on Thursday. The sops that include tablet PCs for kids who clear Class X and laptops for those who pass their Class XII exams are likely to cost the state Rs 4,400 crore annually. There is a special incentive for Muslim girls, who will get Rs 30,000 for clearing Class X. Unemployed youth above 35 registered with the employment exchange, will be entitled to a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000.

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