LUCKNOW: It was in 1994 that Akhilesh, then around 20, was clicked with his chief minister father Mulayam Singh Yadav for the first time ever during a special photo shoot for a news magazine. A little over 18 years later, Akhilesh will be clicked with Mulayam once again on Thursday, but with a difference. This time it will be their first ever photograph with Akhilesh as CM. What will however remain unchanged, is the venue: Akhilesh will take his oath of office at a grand function on the La Martiniere College grounds, exactly the same spot where their photoshoot was done in 1994.
What will make the show more special will be a host of country’s top political personalities, including L K Advani, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu and Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, turning up for the ceremony. Industrialist Anil Ambani, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and a host of VIPs will also witness history as it is made when Akhilesh will become the youngest ever CM of Uttar Pradesh. Though invitations were also sent to Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalita, both of them have are unlikely to turn up.
Though political analysts started reading into the list of invitees, party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said invitations have been sent to almost all the chief ministers and MPs. He denied that leaders of only a select few political parties were being invited for the function. After Akhilesh is sworn in, some recently elected Samajwadi Party (SP) MLAs will also be administered the oath of office. In the absence of any specific information over the number of MLAs slated to take oath of office, speculations were rife that the count can be anything between 10 and 20. ‘Initially, cabinet will be small’
Party insiders told TOI that only two other senior SP leaders are sure to take oath: Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav. Over the next few days, the party will deliberate on the final shape and size of the cabinet. While Azam is seen as the Muslim face of SP and has been a colleague of Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal is the latter’s younger brother. These were the two leaders who had reportedly expressed their displeasure over Akhilesh being made the chief minister primarily because both of them have long political careers and were undoubtedly very senior to Akhilesh in all respects. Both of them later agreed to become a member of the youngest chief minister’s cabinet.
Initially the party had planned to shortlist some 20 MLAs to be administered the oath of office along with Akhilesh. However, despite a series of marathon meetings, the party leadership failed to reach a consensus on the top 20 names till late in the evening.
The swearing-in ceremony is slated to take place at 11:30 am after which Akhilesh will directly leave for the CM office at Annexe and later address the media at 5 Kalidas Marg, the official residence of the CM. Hectic preparations were under way at the venue of the swearing-in ceremony where a concrete structure has come up to serve as a stage. The estate department has already allotted a fleet of 7 cars, one ambulance, a wireless/cellphone jammer mobile and escort vehicles that will comprise the initial CM’s fleet.
“Our cabinet will be a smaller one to begin with, but let me assure everyone that each and every community and region will find adequate representation in the cabinet which will also be a mix of experienced hands and young first-timers ,” Akhilesh told reporters on Wednesday. He, however, refused to comment on the count of MLAs who would take the oath of office along with him. SP workers and leaders from West Bengal and Mumbai had reached Lucknow on Wednesday night.