Worked under 5 CMs and 2 Governors in UP, but I felt most empowered under Mulayam Singh Yadav

As District Magistrate, I used to get his phone calls early in the morning around 7:00-7:30 am on a specified day, every week, in which he would inquire about major issues I was facing and how he could help me deliver better. He would also seek feedback on the political leaders of his party in the district and will weigh my views heavily while deciding about their future. Those were the days when a District Magistrate‘s feedback could see the sacking of a political leader, not vice versa!

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I am really saddened by the untimely demise of Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav Ji. He was one of the finest Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh I know of.

I have had the privilege of working under his leadership as District Magistrate of Hamirpur and Maharajganj districts, Commissioner of Basti division, and Director and Secretary to Government. A compassionate leader and an able administrator, he significantly contributed towards the state’s development. His no-nonsense approach and dealing with communal forces with iron hands was unprecedented and has never been replicated by any other leader later.

As District Magistrate, I used to get his phone calls early in the morning around 7:00-7:30 am on a specified day, every week, in which he would inquire about major issues I was facing and how he could help me deliver better. He would also seek feedback on the political leaders of his party in the district and will weigh my views heavily while deciding about their future. Those were the days when a District Magistrate‘s feedback could see the sacking of a political leader, not vice versa!

There was a time when I made a decision in Hamirpur that was politically inconvenient to him and his party. I had taken that decision in the larger public interest. Even before a word of resentment could be uttered by his party leaders, he immediately owned up to my decision and publicly applauded me, thereby virtually silencing his party-men. My morale was boosted and I felt empowered. This is where I learnt what statesmanship meant.
He had issued standing instructions to all District Magistrates to call upon him whenever they visited Lucknow. Issuing directions is one thing and ensuring compliance is another, especially when you have to comply with your instructions.

While all District Magistrates would comply with the Chief Minister’s orders and try to meet him whenever they visited Lucknow, it is extremely difficult for a Chief Minister to find time and meet visiting District Magistrates in an unscheduled manner.

However, there was not even a single occasion when he would not be able to find time to meet me. He will give you at least 10-15 minutes with undivided attention, seek feedback, and give clear directions. I always came back to the district satisfied and empowered.
There was a major issue regarding the location of the headquarters of the new Maharajganj district. The issue was highly politically sensitive and his party had taken a stand. I did my survey, consulted stakeholders, and made a recommendation to him in the form of a detailed report. He approved it despite my recommendation being politically inconvenient to him.

In the Basti division, amidst a major breakdown of law and order during elections, I made a direct phone call to him and sought his support in handling the situation. He asked me who was the tallest leader of his party on the ground and asked me to connect with him over the phone. I did that and the entire law and order problem was resolved within minutes after he spoke to that leader.

Once a Minister of his cabinet complained to him about me. He told him that he knew me well and that I would not listen even to him as the Chief Minister if he was not convinced. He told the Minister to back off. You can imagine how empowered I felt. The Minister then saw my point and became friend with me.

I have worked under 5 Chief Ministers and 2 Governors in Uttar Pradesh and I can say without hesitation that I felt most empowered under Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav Ji’s leadership.

I could deliver the most for the poor and socially downtrodden under his tenure. It was basically because of the unbridled access he provided me, the trust he had in me, and the manner in which he owned up to my decisions even when they were politically inconvenient to him. These are rare qualities in leaders of today.

A kind human being. An able administrator. A fatherly figure. Someone I would remember forever. Rest In Peace Sir. You will always be missed!

Arun Arya
Arun Aryahttps://arunarya.net/
is an IAS officer, now working at the World Bank. He was posted as District Magistrate in several districts of Uttar Pradesh.

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