As former UP CM and patriarch of Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav turns 81 today, his village Safai recalls how the people had skipped their meals just to collect money so that their beloved Netaji could contest his first ever assembly elections.
Ankit Yadav, grandson of the former village head of Saifai, recalls how his grandfather late Darshan Singh Yadav who was also a close friend of Mulayam Singh Yadav used to narrate him about people’s love for their Netaji.
“People of Saifai were engaged in mobilising money for Netaji to contest elections but they could not collect enough money. Then, one day, there was a meeting of villagers at Netaji’s house, in which people of all castes participated,” Darshan Singh Yadav said.
“One Sone Lal Shakya said that Mulayam Singh Yadav belongs to us and we should skip our meal so that we can collect enough money for Netaji’s elections. If we skip our meal, it will help Mulayam Singh Yadav for eight days at least. That day all the villagers gathered and supported Sone Lal’s proposal,” recalled Darshan.
He reached the assembly in 1967 by winning the election for the first time from Jaswantnagar Assembly seat of Etawah. During his initial days, Mulayam Singh Yadav “had a great interest in wrestling since his childhood. After returning from school in the evening, he used to go to the arena and wrestle. It is said that Netaji’s childhood was spent without much facilities, but he was always ready to help his colleagues,” he added.
Born in Saifai in Etawah on November 22, 1939, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s father wanted him to become a wrestler, a family profession. Mulayam Singh entered politics because of hi wrestling. His political guru was impressed with Mulayam during a wrestling competition held in Mainpuri and from here Mulayam Singh Yadav’s political career started.
Mulayam Singh Yadav won this election from Ram Manohar Lohia’s United Socialist Party. After Lohia died in 1968, Mulayam joined the Bharatiya Kranti Dal, the party of farmer-based leader Chaudhary Charan Singh. In 1974, Mulayam Singh became MLA again on BKD ticket.
“My grandfather used to tell me that though Mulayam Singh was short in height, still had great agility in climbing trees plucking mango, guava and berries for friends. Many times people used to reach his house with complaints after which Netaji was scolded by his father,” added Darshan.
Mulayam Singh Yadav taught in the same college in UP’s Mainpuri where he studied during childhood. It is said that Mulayam Singh was introduced in politics by a veteran leader Chaudhary Nathu Singh who gave up his seat for Mulayam after which he successfully became an MLA at a young age. However, there were many people who opposed Mulayam Singh being given the assembly ticket, but no one was opposed to Nathu Singh.
Chaudhary Nathu left his seat for Mulayam as he used to say that Mulayam is educated and that he should go to the assembly. Recalling the memories of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s first election, Darshan Singh Yadav stated, “Mulayam Singh Yadav has helped so many people, but he never owes this to anyone. Baba used to say that when Netaji got the assembly ticket for the first time, they went among the people and asked for donations along with votes to contest the elections.”
“In his speeches, Mulayam Singh used to appeal to people to give them one vote and one note (one rupee). The leader used to say that if we become MLAs, we will return you one rupee with interest in one way or the other. People used to clap a lot after listening to Mulayam Singh and donate freely. Baba used to tell me that earlier we used to campaign with bicycles. Later, we bought a second-hand car with donations money, but we had to push that car a lot, as it broke down repeatedly,” added Darshan.
Whenever the leaders associated with people or land are mentioned in Indian politics, the name of Samajwadi Party’s patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is mentioned. Mulayam Singh is often referred to as ‘Dharti Putr’ (son of earth) because of his ground level politics in his home state.
There are many other stories related to Mulayam Singh in Uttar Pradesh. One such story is that he was picked up by a police inspector on the stage and he threw the inspector as he was not letting a poet read his poem on the stage.
During emergency, Mulayam Singh Yadav went to jail. He became the Cooperative Minister in Ramnaresh Yadav’s government when he was elected MLA from Jaswantnagar for the third time.
The political career of Mulayam Singh started growing after the death of Chaudhary Charan Singh, however, a battle of supremacy erupted between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chaudhary Charan Singh’s son and RLD leader Ajit Singh for the legacy of Chaudhary Charan Singh.
The Janata Dal broke up in 1990 and Mulayam Singh Yadav laid the foundation of the Samajwadi Party in 1992. He became the Chief Minister of UP for the first time in 1989 due to political alliances. Midterm elections were held in 1991 and Mulayam Singh Yadav had to face defeat.
In 1993, Mulayam Singh Yadav tied up with Bahujan Samaj Party to come into power. This alliance worked and he returned to power. Mulayam Singh Yadav also became the Defense Minister at the Center. He was also close to becoming the Prime Minister with after alliance with parties, but Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav allegedly didn’t agree for it.