She was seen to be in the Shivpal camp, taking on Akhilesh Yadav. How does Aparna Yadav, Mulayam's ‘Chhoti Bahu’ respond to the charge that she was one of the reasons for tension between the UP CM and his father?
In this interview to Barkha Dutt, she insists she wants to be the “Fevicol” of the family. She also speaks about why she praised the party’s opponent, the Prime Minister, and took a selfie with him, takes questions on her husband Prateek’s Lamborghini, and explains her politically controversial take on reservations.
“I Want to Be the Fevicol of My Family”
Arpana has been at the centre of the Yadav family feud, with some holding her responsible for the tiff. Dismissing the speculation, Aparna said that she wants to be the “Fevicol” of the family.
"Rishton mein kuch meetha ho jaaye," she said, laughing about her living the Cadbury Dairy Milk ad – and bringing the Yadav parivar closer – as India's largest state goes to polls.
Seated in the narrow lanes of Sadar Bazar in Lucknow amidst a crowd of her supporters, Aparna told Barkha:
I will do whatever it takes to be the Fevicol of my family. Politics or not, my relationship with Dimple and Akhilesh cannot change. I have a lot of respect for my father-in-law Mulayam Singh, Akhilesh bhaiyya and Dimple bhabhi, but I can’t just sit in their laps all the time... I would like to be a bridge in this family.
Reservation Without Caste
Aparna, a student of Political Science and Sociology, spoke about witnessing the huge SP rallies outside Loreto Convent where she studied. She did not intend to join politics, but had a moment of reckoning when she voiced her opposition against caste-based reservations proposed by Congress leader Arjun Singh, suggesting that it should be based on economic status rather than just caste.
Undaunted by the political jargon of reservation that politicians use before polls, Aparna said:
Reservation should be on the basis of financial status, not caste. I would not want my daughter to not use the reservation quota being a Yadav, because we can fend for ourselves economically.
She said her “straightforward nature” is both appreciated by some and irritating to others.
The Infamous Modi Selfie
On allegations of being a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a selfie with the PM went viral, she laughed it off, saying that everybody had clicked selfies with Modi but somehow only hers went viral.
Voicing her disappointment with demonetisation, Aparna said that while she had supported PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign, she is dead against the currency ban, which took a heavy toll on the public.
I have a lot of respect for him. But I do oppose him for his note ban move and his advancing of the Budget. I supported his Swachh Bharat but the bylanes are not clean. He is a seasoned man. He is a good man, but his team needs to work on what he presents. There are points on which I agree and disagree. As a PM, you need to respect him. Just like President Pranab Mukherjee cannot be termed as a Congressman, Modiji is the PM of the whole country.
The Distance Between Cycle and Lamborghini
Aparna’s husband Prateek’s Lamborghini gained notoriety while Akhilesh and their father Mulayam fought over the ‘cycle’ symbol. For a party that looks to attract supporters with their modest ‘cycle’, Aparna is the richest candidate to contest from UP, with assets worth Rs 23 crore.
There are many people affiliated to other political parties who drive around in Rolls Royces. Ambassador has gone out of the window. There are many politicians using those luxury cars. If someone can afford it, we should let him do what he wants to do.
She said her husband prefers to be a businessman and shouldn't be expected to join politics just because he belongs to the Yadav family.
Just because he has a Yadav tag attached, we can’t ask him to join politics. It would be too idealistic to expect him to be riding a cycle because that’s the party symbol. If a man is doing his business, why should we stop him? Let that man breathe and do his own thing.
A Woman in Politics
It's not easy for women to be policy-makers, with current protests in Nagaland against women's reservations in ULB polls being a shining indication of the depth of the problem.
Aparna, who was leading a padyatra campaign, said she wants to tell her female supporters to leave their household chores behind and exercise their right to vote first.
It is very difficult to be a woman politician. Our society doesn’t see a woman as a policymaker. I am not doing a padyatra as a campaign but as an appeal to women that household chores can wait, but voting cannot. I want women to vote. Maybe no woman has campaigned like this before.
BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Aparna’s rival candidate for the constituency of Lucknow Cantt, has blamed Yadav nepotism for Aparna's rise up the political ladder. But as for Aparna, she wears the tag of beti before bahu.
I am a daughter of UP first. The janta has the answer. I believe she will get the ultimate answer from the people when the elections come.
Camerapersons: Abhay Sharma, Puneet Bhatia & Vijay Bedi
Producers: Shadab Moizee
Video Editors: Mohd Irshad Alam & Purnendu Pritam