, the Samajwadi Party's young member of parliament from Kannauj, on Tuesday proved he had come of age in Uttar Pradesh's rough and tumble politics
, steering his party to a landslide victory in elections to the 403-seat state assembly.
With results showing that the party has won 224 seats on its own in the state, all eyes are on Akhilesh Yadav who was in the forefront fielding the media and articulating the party's views and strategies.
As results started pouring in, there was speculation of Akhilesh becoming chief minister. However, he brushed it aside saying: "I am not in the race for chief minister's post. The party feels that the responsibility should go to Netaji (his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav)."
Akhilesh's leadership of the party in the most crucial state in Indian politics has only come in for closer scrutiny in the recent months and run-up to the seven-phased elections.
An engineer by training, having studied in Karnataka's University of Mysore, Akhilesh, 39, also had education in Australia.
This background helped him in bringing in new perspectives to the party's policies. The party has promised free laptops for students and computer education, with a focus on educating girls, in the state.
Considered a youth icon with a judicious mix of leadership qualities, he had, during the high voltage poll campaign, raised issues concerning both urban and rural India such as poverty, agriculture, corruption and social evils.
The young Samjawadi Party leader had carried out an intensive campaign for the party in the elections, taking to the street on foot and on cycle.
He reached out to people at the grassroots through road shows across the state and sought to convey a message of being accessible and reachable.
Party leaders said Akhilesh reshaped SP's thinking by going beyond caste mobilisation and sought to connect its campaign to the aspirations of the youth in the country's most populous state, which lags behind in human development parameters.
Akhilesh also attempted to wash off the taint of his party's association with criminal elements during its rule in the state. He vetoed induction of don-turned-politician D.P. Yadav.
Akhilesh had jumped into the poll fray in 2000 during a by-poll and won the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat, previously held by his father. Since then, he has won all the Lok Sabha elections from that constituency. He had also won the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat in 2009, but vacated it to retain Kannauj.
His wife, Dimple Yadav, contested the Firozabad by-poll later, but failed to win it.
Born in Saifai in Uttar Pradesh's Etawah district, Akhilesh is a self-confessed nature lover. As a member of parliament, he has been a member of several committees, including those on forests and environment, science and technology and urban development.