Popularly known as “Netaji” in political circles, Moulayam Singh Yadav, 82 years old served as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for three terms, elected eight times to the State Assembly and seven times to Parliament. The wrestler-turned-teacher-turned-politician also served as Union Defense Minister.
Belonging to Saifai village of Etawah district, Mulayam’s personal journey as a politician is said to be closely linked to the political history of the UP, from the era of Mandal-Kamandal politics in the 1980s and 1990, until he transferred the reins to his son. Akhilesh Yadav in 2012.
Mulayam’s rise in UP politics, which began while he was in college, coincided with a period of intense social and political turmoil after the 1970s. The Other Backward Classes ( OBC) had then begun to gain political ascendancy within the UP, leading to the sidelining of the Congress party dominated by the leaders of the upper castes. India’s most populous state was then also witnessing strong community polarization following the BJP’s aggressive campaign for the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple.
Emerging as a socialist leader, Mulayam quickly established himself as a stalwart of the OBC, capturing some of the political space vacated by Congress. After being sworn in as the 15th CM of the UP in 1989, Congress could never return to power in the state.
Known in the wrestling arena for his sudden moves, in politics, Mulayam did not hesitate to speak his mind or implement what he believed in.
He first entered politics at the age of 28 when he won the Jaswant Nagar Assembly constituency of Etawah District in 1967 as the candidate of the Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP). He won another seven times as the candidate of Charan Singh’s first party, the Bharatiya Kranti Dal, later renamed Bharatiya Lok Dal, as the Janata Dal candidate in 1989, as the Janata Party candidate in 1991, before to form his own Samajwadi party in 1992.
Since 1996 when Mulayam was elected to parliament, the seat has been won by his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav.
During his first term as an MP, Mulayam served as Union Defense Minister in the United Front government. During his tenure, he called China India’s “bigger enemy” than Pakistan, and maintained that position until the end.
He first became chief minister under a government led by Janata Dal in Uttar Pradesh in 1989, but his tenure could not last more than two years as the party split into both Center and in Uttar Pradesh.
It was under his first regime that the police opened fire on the kar sevaks gathered in Ayodhya at the call of the leaders of the VHP, RSS and BJP, on October 30, 1989. Later, he would express his sadness and his regrets about what had happened, but will justify it by saying so. was necessary to protect a religious place, the unity of the country and the faith of Muslims in the country.
He became CM for the second time after the 1993 Assembly elections, when he formed the government with the BSP, then led by its founder Kanshi Ram. This government stumbled upon the infamous guesthouse incident when angry SP workers attacked a meeting Mayawati was holding with his party MPs.
Mulayam became CM for the third time in 2003. It was during this tenure that he introduced several welfare schemes and a much-talked-about unemployment benefit of Rs 500 per month. He also introduced a Kanya Vidya Dhan program to help poor female students, which was later revived by his son Akhilesh Yadav, who became chief minister in 2012.
While his government’s decision to open fire on kar sevaks in Ayodhya would lead BJP affiliates to call him “Mullah Mulayam”, it helped him forge a Muslim-Yadav or MY combination for his party which served him well.
He was a strong proponent of the use of Hindi in official announcements and often spoke out against the promotion of English. In 2013, he even called for a ban on the use of English in parliament, while in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Samajwadi party manifesto spoke out against “expensive education in English”. and against computers, claiming that these would lead to unemployment.
In 2014, his statement opposing capital punishment for rape, saying “Ladke, ladke hain, galti ho jati hai (Boys will be boys.. they make mistakes)”, sparked outrage and led Mulayam into one of his biggest controversies. The SP leadership is still mocked by the statement of opponents, who equate its state rule with anarchy.
Mulayam is survived by Akhilesh, his son from his first wife, Prateek, a son from his second wife Sadhna Gupta, and grandchildren except his brothers.