One of the tallest leaders of socialist politics in India and founder of the Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav, breathed his last at a private hospital in Gurugram on Monday morning. He was 82. The former chief minister of UP and former defence minister of India had been undergoing treatment for prolonged illness for quite some time.
The news of his demise was conformed on the party’s official twitter handle on Monday morning, quoting the senior leader’s son, Akhilesh Yadav. The nine-time Member of Legislative Assembly of UP and five-time Member of Parliament was one of the tallest leaders to come out Lohia’s movement after meeting its founder, Ram Manohar Lohia, at the age of 15.
Yadav won his first election in 1967 from the Jaswant Nagar constituency in Uttar Pradesh. He actively took part in the anti-Emergency movement in 1975, for which he was arrested and served time in jail for 19 months. After his release, Yadav won the seat for a record third time.
Born into a poor family of farmers on November 22, 1939, in UP’s Saifai village in Etawah district, Yadav wanted to become a wrestler during his student days. But encounter with Lohia changed his career path and went on the become one of India’s tallest leaderds. Even after he turned to politics at the cost of his fledgeling career, the former CM continued to show a keen interest in the sport.
Yadav is best remembered for being part of a new breed of socialist politicians like Lalu Parsad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sharad Yadav, and Nitish Kumar, who aligned backward castes, dalits and other socially repressed classes into a cohesive political unit that helped them to reach the highest levels of power, both in their respective states and Centre.
In 1996, Yadav came tantalising close to becoming the Prime Minister of India, but HD Deve Gowda emerged as the consensus candidate of the United From coalition. After losing out on the PM’s race, he became the defence minister in Deve Gowda’s cabinet. It was during his time as defence minister that the infamous Purulia arms dropping took place, for which Yadav faced the opposition heat.
Despite the cut and thrust of India’s politics, Mulayam Singh Yadav maintained cordial relationships with other politicians cutting across party lines.