A Teacher, a Wrestler, a Politician: Mulayam Singh Yadav Passes Away at 82

Mulayam established himself as a socialist OBC leader for the backward castes while maintaining secular credentials.

3 min read
Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

Video Producers: Mayank Chawla, Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who served thrice as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and once as the Union defence minister, passed away on Monday, 10 October, at the age of 82.

Mulayam, who was popularly called Netaji by his supporters, had been unwell for some time and was shifted to Medanta hospital in Gurgaon on 22 August. As his condition deteriorated, he was moved to the ICU of the private hospital on Sunday, 2 October.

He was being treated by a team of specialist doctors at Medanta Hospital.

He is survived by two sons – Akhilesh Yadav and Prateek Yadav.


Teacher, Wrestler

Born to Murti Devi and Sughar Singh on 22 November 1939 in Saifai village of Uttar Pradesh's Etawah district, Mulayam founded the Samajwadi Party in 1992 and served for three terms as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He first became the chief minister in 1989, serving till 91, then from 1993 to 95 and 2003 to 2007. He also served as the defence minister in the United Front government at the Centre from 1996 to 1998.

Mulayam started his professional career as a teacher at Jain Inter College in Manipuri district's Karhal. He also used to dabble in wrestling in his youth, and as the legend goes, that is how he got into politics.

In the early 1960s, when Mulayam was in his 20s, Nathu Singh, the Socialist Party MLA from Jaswant Nagar in Etawah, came to visit a wrestling tournament in the neighbouring Mainpuri district. Impressed by a short but sturdy Mulayam's wrestling skills and his ability to defeat stronger opponents, Singh asked to meet the young wrestler. Finding out that the young man was also educated and was teaching at a local college, Singh took him under his wing and became his political guru.

Thus began the long political journey of Mulayam Singh Yadav. In the coming Assembly election of 1967, Singh stepped aside and got his young protege to contest the polls from Jaswant Nagar.


MLA at 27

After becoming an MLA for the first time at the young age of 27 in 1967, Mulayam became a state minister in 1977. His first term as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh came in 1989 as a leader of the Janata Dal. His term lasted for two years till 1991, and soon after, he broke away from the Janata Dal and founded the Samajwadi Party, becoming its founder-president.

He rose in UP politics during the politically turmoil period of the 1970s, and then in the late 1980s and the early 1990s which were marked by intense caste politics. He established himself as a socialist OBC leader, advocating reservation for the backward castes, doling out welfare schemes, and maintaining secular credentials.

His Muslim-Yadav political formula brought rich dividends, catapulting the Samajwadi Party to power in 1993, only a year after its formation.

Mulayam's ascend in UP politics came at the cost of the Congress, which has seen a constant dwindling of fortunes since the 1980s. Even when out of power, Mulayam remained at the centre of the state politics. After the Samajwadi Party's historic win in 2012, the first time the party scored a full majority on its own, Mulayam passed on the baton to his son Akhilesh, while keeping a tight grip on the party and even on the administration.

In the months leading up to the 2017 Assembly polls, Mulayam found himself in the middle of a family feud, with son Akhilesh and brother Shivpal fighting a public and bitter battle for control over the party.

As Akhilesh proved his dominance, replacing his father as the party's national president at a controversial emergency meeting, Mulayam withdrew from the frontlines, only making occasional public appearances and contesting the Lok Sabha election in 2019.


Snapshot of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Political Career

In his decades-long career, Mulayam Singh Yadav served as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh thrice and as Union defence minister once, besides multiple terms as the member of the UP Assembly and as a Lok Sabha MP.

Here is a snapshot of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s political career:

  • 1967, 1974, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2003, 2007: Elected to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly

  • 1989-91, 1993-95, 2003-2007:  Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh

  • 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019: Elected to Lok Sabha

  • 1996-98: Union Cabinet Minister, Defence

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