The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is rapidly leaving its mark on very important politicians. The latest to turn a new leaf, or attempting to, is Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav.
Recently, he took the route to his residence from Lucknow airport escorted by only four vehicles instead of the usual 24. There were no blaring sirens and traffic was not stopped to give him way. Security was minimum.
The Samajwadi Party, however, said it was not inspired by AAP. “The CM likes simplicity. He has always been of the view that traffic should not be stopped for VIPs,” said UP information director Prabhat Mittal. “Earlier, officials cited security reasons, but now the CM has put his foot down.”
The monthly security bill for UP is Rs23 crore. As many as 5,694 cops are deployed for 1,998 VIPs. This includes 450 security personnel, including NSG commandos, manning the CM. When Mayawati was CM, she had a fleet of over 30 vehicles to escort her.
Kejriwal has repeatedly emphasised the need to end VIP culture. UP, the most important political state with 80 Lok Sabha seats, is aping many of AAP’s other ideas too. For instance, the government rejected the UP Power Corporation Ltd’s proposal for a 15 per cent power tariff hike.
The state has already seen two hikes since March 2012 after the Samajwadi Party formed its government. Another hike could have become a major issue in the upcoming polls.
The Kejriwal-led AAP has also demanded an audit of the accounts of private power companies.
Now, the UP Energy Regulatory Commission is considering an audit of private firms with retrospective effect. Accounts of private power firms in UP have not been audited since 2009.
Also, four of the eight newly appointed information commissioners of UP have refused to move into government bungalows. The government has also started a rigorous drive against the unauthorised use of red and blue beacons on vehicles.
The AAP effect is not just in UP. Rajasthan CM, BJP’s Vasundhara Raje, has also chosen to stay in an MLA bungalow instead of the CM’s official residence. Her cavalcade stops at traffic lights and she has reduced her security staff by half. Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren on Friday directed officials not to use sirens. He has asked ministers to follow suit and reduce the number of cars in their cavalcades.
In Maharashtra, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam demanded a reduction in power tariff whereas the Haryana government announced a rebate of Rs200 on power bills. Haryana goes to polls later this year.
Looks like AAP has, in a manner of speaking, already taken over in many states.