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Akhilesh Yadav To Be New CM Of Uttar Pradesh

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Akhilesh Yadav, who scripted spectacular success in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections with an image makeover for Samajwadi Party, will be the new and youngest Chief Minister of the state, representing a generational shift in its politics.

The 38-year-old leader will be sworn in as chief minister around 1 PM on March 15 along with other members of the cabinet.

Ending all speculation, Akhilesh, son of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, was elected leader of the SP legislature party unanimously after senior leader Azam Khan, who is said to have had some reservations, proposed his name.

It was seconded by Mulayam's brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, who also reportedly had some misgivings initially about handing over chiefministership to the young leader who is credited in a major way with reviving the party's fortunes in the elections.

His predecessor Mayawati was 39 when she first became chief minister in 1995 in a coalition government with support from SP.

Shortly after the election at the legislature party meeting which included MPs, Akhilesh Yadav told reporters that his government would implement all the promises made in the SP manifesto without discrimination of caste and religion because people cutting across all castes and religions have given a mandate to the party.

Tackling law and order will be his government's priority, he said, adding honest officers would be appointed to deal with the issue.

In a break with the policies of the predecessor government, Akhilesh Yadva said the vacant space in the memorials built by Mayawati would be used for building medical or educational institutions.

The election of Akhilesh Yadav, who holds a masters in environmental engineering from Australia, was followed by a thunderous clapping of the assembled gathering of newly-elected MLAs and MPs of the party.

As soon as his name was approved, Akhilesh touched the feet of his 73-year-old father Mulayam Singh Yadav to take his blessings.

That Akhilesh, who toured Uttar Pradesh on his 'kranti rath yatra' on the plank of development, could be in the race for chiefministership was evident when the party got an absolute majority in the 403-member Assembly by winning 224 seats, notwithstanding the reservations of some seniors.

Akhilesh was also instrumental in the party shedding its image of being opposed to computers and English with promise of free laptops for students.

However, in the last two days Mulayam Singh reportedly worked on the seniors and persuaded them about handing over the mantle of chiefministership to his son, who now represents Kannauj in the Lok Sabha.

In his speech, Azam Khan, considered the Muslim face of SP, said Akhilesh was being given a big responsibility and hoped he would discharge it successfully. He rejected Mayawati's claim that Muslims shifted to SP because of the fear of BJP and said the Muslims were always with the SP from the days of Babri Masjid demolition.

"The party got more votes than it got after Babri mosque demolition", Khan added.