Mainpuri -, April 23 - Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is no longer a hero for the young in Mainpuri, the constituency which sent him to parliament seven times.
Naziya Parveen, 25, a primary school teacher in Bhongaon, told IANS: Mulayam is definitely not a hero for us.
Ironically, Yadav's falling reputation among the young stems from acts aimed at helping them.
In 1991, the state's Bharatiya Janata Party - government had pushed through a law that made cheating a non-bailable offence.
Upon his return to power in 1993, Yadav rushed to do away with the law which caused 15- and 16-year olds to be hauled to jail.
The following year, the Class 10 pass percentage in the state's board exams climbed to 38.12 percent from the 25.34 percent of the previous year and the still poorer 14.70 percent of 1992. Mass cheating ensured that these numbers continued to climb while a dedicated cheating mafia that promised marks for money struck its roots in the state.
In 2004, Yadav came up with the self centre scheme which pushed the numbers to 70 percent. Education became good business and in the district 2,450 primary schools, 292 upper secondary schools and 59 degree and postgraduate colleges sprung up - most of these privately owned.
Ajay Yadav, a 27-year-old doctor, says these measures destroyed youth.
Cheating became so rampant that students from Mainpuri were scorned at in other districts. In Agra from where I did my bachelors, I was often told that Mainpuri was known only for its cheaters and criminals, Yadav rued to IANS.
Ajay also dismissed the contention that people of his caste have had it easy under Yadav. He learnt this the hard way when the police refused to file a report on his complaint only because he stood against a Yadav with more political clout than him.
Saurabh Dubey, a 28-year-old who teaches chemistry in a government college, says: Development in Mainpuri comes in the form of infrastructure work for which tenders can be handed out to a chosen few. If the party was really interested in the welfare of the young, why could it not set up any industry or get any investment to the district?
Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, has had his own calculations on how the young can benefit. While campaigning for the 2012 Vidhan Sabha polls in the state, he promised to scrap the merit-based Teachers Eligibility Test - for appointment to primary and upper primary schools in the state. A list of 72,825 successful candidates was set out in the first instalment of the test in 2011 conducted under the erstwhile Mayawati government.
However, these are yet to be placed as the state government is fighting for a system of selection based on marks in Class 10, Class 12, graduation exams and TET - giving an obvious edge to those who have cleared the first three by cheating.
Parveen says the young are slowly seeing through the quick fix sops they have been offered.
Our dreams have died because of the notoriety of the education system. The young will strike back, she says.
When that happens Yadav might find it difficult to stem a fire he started.
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