Mulayam Singh Yadav

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Blaming laptops for the poor showing of his Samajwadi Party in the General Election
Normally, you would laud a government that gave free laptops to students, but Mulayam Singh Yadav has suddenly developed a difference of opinion on this. And he has expressed this difference with his son Akhilesh, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, who initiated the free laptop scheme.

In Mulayam’s worldview, those who had received these laptops saw Narendra Modi’s speeches on their screens and ended up voting BJP. It acted like a fifth columnist of the BJP, except that the man who oversaw it was Akhilesh. But this man is also the same Chief Minister who has turned Uttar Pradesh’s law-and-order clock backwards. And between laptops and law-and-order, even a blind man can see what swayed the voter. The position that Mulayam has taken is not new.

A quarter century ago, you could hear such voices in India—of people who believed that computers and technological innovation were forces of evil. That someone should now hold such a view is bizarre, but that he is in a position of power to enforce the implications of such a view is dangerous. The Samajwadi Party chief assumes that rolling back progress will get him votes. The truth is the reverse: it is regression that loses leaders like him votes.