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Remembering Mulayam Singh Yadav aka 'Dharti Putra'

Remembering Mulayam Singh Yadav aka Dharti Putra

Lucknow: Mulayam Singh Yadav, founder of the Samajwadi Party, passed away on Monday, 10 October, at a Gurugram hospital after a prolonged illness. Often called 'Dhartiputra', the veteran leader remained a true son of the soil. His style of politics was firmly grounded and success and failure did not affect him.

Born on 22 November 1939, into a farming family in Uttar Pradesh's Saifai near Etwah, Yadav contested his maiden Assembly election from Karhal in 1967 on Ram Manohar Lohia's Samyukta Socialist Party ticket.

Yadav was one of the last of his generation of politicians who kept his values intact and did not corporatize his politics.

For him, the last man in the line remained important - whether it was from his family, his village, or his state. He was a friend of friends and even turned his foes into friends.

He first became a state minister in 1977. Later, in 1980, he became the president of the Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh which later became a part of the Janata Dal.

In 1982, he was elected leader of the opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council and held that post until 1985. When the Lok Dal party split, Yadav launched the Krantikari Morcha party.

Mulayam Singh Yadav first became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1989.

After the collapse of the V.P. Singh national government in November 1990, Yadav joined Chandra Shekhar's Janata Dal (Socialist) party and continued in office as the chief minister with the support of the Congress.

His government fell when Congress withdrew support in April 1991 and Mulayam Singh lost to the BJP in the midterm elections.

In 1992, Yadav founded his own Samajwadi Party and then allied with the Bahujan Samaj Party for the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, held in November 1993.

The alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party prevented the return of the BJP to power in the state and Yadav became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh with the support of Congress and Janata Dal.The firing on Ayodhya activists and then Uttarakhand activists at Muzaffarnagar on October 2, 1994, remained black spots of his regime.

In 1995, the SP-BSP alliance broke with the infamous State Guest House incident but Mulayam Singh Yadav made sure that his party bounced back to power in 2003.

He was sworn in as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for the third time in September 2003.

Yadav contested the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Mainpuri while he was still Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. However, he later resigned from the Lok Sabha and continued as chief minister till 2007 when the SP lost to the BSP in the state elections.

Mulayam Singh Yadav was one of the few politicians who blatantly promoted nepotism and had no qualms about it. At any given time, there were about a dozen family members in politics in Uttar Pradesh.

"He always pushed us into politics and asked us to make a career for ourselves. It was always he who decided what was best for us and took keen interest in our careers," said one of his nephews.

Mulayam shared a love-hate relationship with the media. His famous 'Halla Bol' agitation against some newspapers grabbed national headlines.

However, Mulayam made sure that his individual relationship with journalists never deteriorated. Even if he ticked off a scribe for his writing, he made sure to call out to him and mend fences at the earliest.

For party workers, he remained their beloved 'Netaji' - one who was always approachable and available.

In the past five years, after Akhilesh Yadav took over the reins of the party, Mulayam had withdrawn into a shell.

Mulayam was disturbed by the recent happenings in his family -- daughter-in-law Aparna joining the BJP, the split between son Akhilesh and brother Shivpal. He made no public mention of it but it was clear that he was deeply affected by what was happening.

The demise of his second wife Sadhana Gupta Yadav in July this year, sources say, left Mulayam distressed and lonely and this led to a deterioration in his physical condition.

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