The three-time UP CM, seven-time MP, former defence minister and 10-time MLA is survived by two sons — former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and Pratik Yadav.
Mulayam, or Netaji to his legions of supporters, had been in and out of hospital for the past three years. He was admitted to Medanta-The Medicity in Gurgaon on October 1 for renal complications and was put on life support the following day.
He breathed his last at 8.16am Monday. “His immunity levels were low. That’s why his kidneys and other organs got infected, leading to life-threatening bloodstream infections. We did our best,” a doctor said.
At 9.41am, Akhilesh announced in a tweet: “Mere adarniya pita aur sabke Netaji nahi rahe (My respected father and everyone’s Netaji is no more).” His last rites will be performed at his ancestral village Saifai on Tuesday. The UP government has announced three-day state mourning and a state funeral.
PM Narendra Modi tweeted, “Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav Ji was a remarkable personality. He was widely admired as a humble and grounded leader who was sensitive to people’s problems. He served people diligently and devoted his life towards popularising the ideals of Loknayak JP and Dr Lohia.”
Born in 1939 in Saifai village of Etawah district to farmer Sughar Singh Yadav and Murti Devi, Mulayam was a wrestling enthusiast and carried skills honed in the akhada to the political arena, especially his “charkha daav” — a deceptive grappling move. He used deception to stop Sonia Gandhi from becoming PM in 1998 and Ajit Singh the CM of UP in 1989.
A disciple of socialist icons Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan, he carried forward their legacy till the last, and his socialist movement became a pivot for anti-Congress forces after the grand old party was wiped out from India’s biggest state in 1989.
He formed SP in 1992 and it governed UP four times. It is the biggest opposition party after the resurgence of BJP in 2017.
A grassroots “neta”, it is said that he could name any village in UP from a helicopter. He was the capstone of UP’s backward-class and minority politics in the post-Mandal era, and even earned the nickname “Mullah Mulayam” after he ordered police to fire at kar sevaks marching to the disputed Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in October 1990 during his first term as CM.
The Muslim-Yadav (MY) vote bank that he cultivated remained loyal to SP. His primacy in UP politics would often reflect in his followers’ war cry: “Jiska jalwa kayam hai, uska naam Mulayam hai (The one who will keep shining is Mulayam).”
Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, SP bought the rights to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and turned it into a Hindi campaign song “Man Se Hain Mulayam, Aur Irade Hain Loha…” (He is soft-hearted with an iron-like resolve). This was true to his character. He was called an all-weather friend: “Yaaron ka yaar”. And he always followed his heart.
Glimpses of life of the wrestler-turned-political stalwart Mulayam Singh Yadav
<p>Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav died on Monday at a hospital in Gurugram after prolonged illness.</p>
Mulayam leaves behind a rich legacy and a family that had a CM in Akhilesh and multiple MPs (Ram Gopal, Dimple, Dharmendra), MLAs and ministers (Shivpal Yadav). There was a time when more than 20 members of the Yadav clan were elected representatives — from panchayat to Parliament. A family feud in 2016 saw the first fault-line and Shivpal parted ways two years later. His younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav joined BJP in 2022.
Mulayam was the rallying point for the family. With his departure, the onus would be on Akhilesh to keep the flock together.