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Handover the Municipal Corporations in UP to the public not the Taj to Muslims
Azam Khan is in news these days for making controversial statements which have the potential to destroy the poll prospects of the Samajwadi Party in the next elections for the UP Assembly as the public has a long memory where such issues are concerned.

The first issue that Azam raised and one that has come under severe criticism from an embarrassed and visibly terrified Muslim community in the state was that the Taj Mahal should be handed over to Muslims and a Waqf should run it and the earnings from tourism to the Taj Mahal should go to fund two universities for Muslims.

The idea immediately drew flak from the members of the minority community itself and the charge against Azam was that ever since he has pioneered the opening of a minority institution in Rampur he only thinks about all possible ways to fund universities.

His second comment in front of the media has drawn even more flak. This was in relation to the birthday bash he organised for Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav in Rampur for the leaders 75th birthday.

When asked where the money to fund this extravaganza was coming from, in which a 75 foot long cake was to be cut for the Netaji, Azam replied that the Taliban and Dawood Ebrahim along with Abu Salem were funding the event.

It may seem to be a very clever way of diverting the issue but such statements are doing more harm than good to the prospects of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, which is already on a weak wicket on the law and order and corruption front as it has failed to check rampant corruption and prevent deterioration of law and order.

Azam's attempts to divert issues can and will create embarrassing situations for almost eight crore residents of the state who are seen as Samajwadi Party and Mayawati supporters. However, it seems this senior SP leader believes he is doing the right thing.

However the issues that Azam is trying to raise indirectly were issues relevant to the 20th Century and do not hold water today.

The social forces that determine voting patterns are different now and by polarising votes the Samajwadi Party will lose more and gain less. The party needs to strategise its position on several issues to survive.

The Akhilesh Yadav government still has a chance but it has to seize that chance to grow and become strong while it can. It has to focus on the real issues in the state. Here the common man wants to see action on several fronts, he wants to see the corrupt punished, he wants to see efficient governance and he wants to see an end to wasteful expenditure.

To win hearts of the masses Akhilesh Yadav has to strike at the corrupt, make examples of them and confiscate their properties. He needs to ensure that work culture changes in the state and the way has already been shown to him by PM Narendra Modi.

Rather than trying to drive officials Akhilesh needs to drive his ministers to force their departments to deliver and modernise. The Urban Development Department itself needs a major overhaul and who better than Azam Khan who is known to be a strongman to do this.

It may be recalled that the Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi had recently thrown a challenge to Akhilesh Yadav.

He had named Akhilesh Yadav as the person who should take charge of the Clean India campaign in India's most populous state raising a question on the manner in which the Urban Development Department and the official machinery functions in the state of Uttar Pradesh, or the very fact that it does not function at all. He has also made it very clear that the failure of the Swachh India Campaign in the state will be the failure of the state's CEO, who at this time is Akhilesh Yadav.

While it is clear that the BJP and the Samajwadi Party do not see eye to eye and are the biggest political opponents in Uttar Pradesh at this time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had put both an administrative and the political challenge in front of Yadav and given him the chance to set things right.

By taking up the shovel himself to shovel dirt in Varanasi the PM has challenged the 'Sarkari Sahib' culture of the UP government, especially that in the Municipal Corporations (MCs) of the various dirty cities of UP which include Noida, Varanasi, Lucknow and Ghaizabad all under BJP MPs, who would like to see operation Clean India go underway.

The Sahib culture is an illness which afflicts the Municipal Corporations of the state as these corporations, which want to see enormous hikes in House Tax and Water Tax every second year, are neither being able to provide clean water nor proper drainage or proper roads or street lights to the residents. The taxes are only being hiked to pay staff salaries.

The Corporations are abdicating their responsibilities slowly as slaughter houses are shut down and non-certified meat is sold in the cities. Additional money is being charged now by NGOs to collect garbage and no one has bothered to ask what the output of the staff in the Municipal Corporation is and whether the organisations need downsizing or not. No one has bothered to ask what the teeth to tail ratio of the organisation - which is basically supposed to be Local Self Government is?

The Corporations like the PSUs have become sick bodies which are overstaffed and the staff is underemployed or only involved in generating corruption through a corporator, engineer, contractor, politician and bureaucrat nexus.

May be the UP Vigilance Department should take a lead from the Prime Minister's call and the UP CM should wake up and order an enquiry into the personal assets of all the staffers of the Lucknow, Varanasi, Ghaziabad and Noida corporation to begin with.

They will find a lot of dirt to clean up. It will also earn Akhilesh Yadav some credit with the public. They should start by identifying officials who have undergone hair transplants and ask them if the Taliban funded them or was it Dawood. In fact Azam Khan should do this. 

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