Mulayam Singh Yadav
A prominent politician from the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), and founder of the Samajwadi (Socialist) Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav was born in Etawah (UP) to a poor OBC family (Other Backward Classes). He was educated at the K. K. Degree College of Etawah and at Agra University where he obtained an MA in political science. He was known very early for his wrestler talents, but also for his secular commitments. Groomed by the famous socialist leader, Rammanohar Lohia, who remained his inspirer till his death; quite enthusiastic as well with Raj Narain, Mulayam came in light during the 1977 general elections when he contested and won the Rae Bareilly constituency on a Janata ticket. From then onwards, he remained deeply involved in the various avatars of the Janata: through the Lok Dal of the peasant leader Chaudhary Charan Singh (1980), then the Janata Dal (1989). His first tenure as chief minister of UP was shaken by the Ayodhya developments, when he faced the first attack against the Babri Masjid with determination. He had made it clear that he would prevent L. K. Advani’s Ram Rath Yatra from reaching Ayodhya. On his orders, on 30 October 1990, the police fired at kar sevaks (volunteers) who were attempting to assault the Babri Masjid. The BJP exploited the martyrdom of these militants to the hilt. By then, Muslims had discovered that they could rely on Mulayam, thus his surname of “Maulana” Mulayam. He survived the collapse of the V. P. Singh government at the Centre in November 1990, joining Chandra Shekhar’s dissidence and continuing in office as chief minister with the support of the Congress party. Chandra Shekhar lasted only a few months however, and fell when the Congress withdrew its support in April 1991. Mid-term elections had to be organized in UP. They took place in June and Mulayam Singh’s party had to bow before the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian People’s Party). Mulayam was then totally helpless when, ultimately, under Kalyan Singh’s government, the Babri Masjid was razed to the ground. A month earlier, Mulayam had founded his own organization, the Samajwadi Party (Socialist Party), and it is as such that, in November 1993, he contested fresh assembly elections, called after the dismissal of the BJP. He was by then relying on a supposedly strong alliance with the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) leader, Mayawati, supported by the Janata Dal and the Congress. However, Mayawati opted out in 1995 and, with the support of the BJP, threw him out of the gaddi (throne), their hostility and rancor becoming a major element of ulterior UP politics. In 1996, Mulayam was elected to the eleventh Lok Sabha from Manipuri constituency. The Samajwadi Party then joined the United Front coalition led by H. D. Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral, and he was appointed Defense Minister. The United Front fell in 1998 as India went for fresh elections but he returned to the Lok Sabha that year from Sambhal parliamentary constituency. He contested again the 1999 Lok Sabha elections and won two seats, Sambhal and Kannauj. At the same time, UP politics had become unreadable. Mayawati and BJP were no longer acceptable to each other. Mulayam was able to come back in 2003. He had a thumping majority by then, which he lost again in 2007 to a triumphant Mayawati. Several mistakes cost him dearly, especially a short alliance with Kalyan Singh in 2009, which horrified his Muslim electorate. He looked finished. Then the wheel turned full circle. In the 2012 assembly elections, it was Mayawati who had to bow out and, thanks to the return of the Muslim support, Mulayam won an unexpected but absolute majority. He is still in full command, but has left to his son Akilesh the actual responsibility of chiefministership.
JAFFRELOT, Christophe. 2003b. India’s Silent Revolution. London: C. Hurst.
VERMA, A. K. 2004. “Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.” Economic and Political Weekly, April 3, 1509–14.