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A pressing question in Uttar Pradesh would be this one: where, precisely, does the Akhilesh government stand on the issue of FDI in retail and why? After all, only days ago, Mulayam Singh Yadav, along with leaders of Left parties and the JD (S), wrote a letter to the PM, opposing the further opening up of the retail sector to FDI. On Tuesday, at a function in Delhi, however, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav seemed to temper Netaji's position. It is also not clear just how much of the SP's stand has to do with its positioning vis-a-vis the Centre. More light is needed on this matter, but going by the SP government's list of priorities, that may have to wait. By all accounts, for the government, changing the names given to districts in the Mayawati regime gets top billing — on Monday, the state cabinet decided to rename as many as eight.
Surely, UP's government has other more urgent tasks to attend to. There is the chronic power shortage in the state, which forces UP to meet over 50 per cent of its summer demand by procuring power from outside. Then, the lumpenism of party cadres that threatens to revive bad memories of the "goonda raj" in the previous SP regime. The government may well argue that the renaming of districts — these were named after Dalit icons in the Mayawati regime — is not an act of vendetta and that it is, in fact, restoring names that speak to the local contexts. To be sure, the naming of districts, apart from the installation of statues and parks, was used by Mayawati more to entrench a personality cult than to register a larger Dalit assertion. Yet, far from restoring the balance in a state that has been forced to helplessly oscillate between the SP and the BSP in crude ways, the government's move only threatens to once again stoke a political blood feud.
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