No demolition of statues: Akhilesh

Law and order top priority, says CM-designate

Akhilesh Yadav, the youngest ever chief minister-designate of the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday promised not to tamper with or demolish statues and memorials built by the outgoing Mayawati regime.

Samajwadi Party workers celebrate after Akhilesh Yadav's name was announced for the post of chief minister, in Lucknow on Saturday. PTI

Instead, the vacant spaces would be utilised for building hospitals and educational institutions, Yadav said. Restoring law and order would be among his top priorities, he added. He is slated to assume office on March 15.

Speaking to reporters soon after his unanimous election as the Samajwadi Party legislative party chief, Akhilesh Yadav said the new government would fix responsibility on the district officials and any laxity would be dealt with sternly.

“We will fulfill our promises and give an honest government…we will strive to take Uttar Pradesh forward…it is our responsibility to improve the law and order situation,” said Akhilesh.

Yadav also said there would be no witch-hunting and warned workers of his party against indulging in violence. “No one who takes the law into his hand will be spared,” he declared.

He said his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav would remain active in both Central and
state politics. “Netaji (Mulayam) will guide the party and the government.” Earlier in the day, ending days of suspense and speculation, Akhilesh was unanimously elected leader of the SP legislature party at a meeting of the party MPs and newly-elected MLAs here, paving the way for him to become the youngest chief minister of the state.

Senior SP leader Azam Khan proposed Akhilesh’s name for the top post, which was seconded by Shivpal. Akhilesh will take the oath of office and secrecy on Thursday next.

Soon after his election as legislature party leader, Akhilesh drove to Raj Bhavan and met Governor
B L Joshi and staked claim to form the government. He was accompanied by senior SP leaders Shivpal Singh Yadav, his uncle, and Azam Khan.

Although Mulayam Singh Yadav, a former chief minister of the state, had been in favour of passing on the baton to his son, some senior party leaders, including Khan and Shivpal, were opposed to the idea and wanted Mulayam to lead the government, instead.

The two leaders, however, fell in line after Mulayam held a meeting with them on Friday night. He reportedly cited his poor health as the main reason for not opting for the post of chief minister. The younger lot in the party had been pitching for Akhilesh from the very beginning. According to SP sources, Akhilesh is likely to enter the state legislative council within the stipulated time to fulfill the constitutional obligation that a chief minister must be a member of the either of the two Houses.

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