Former UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav expired on Monday, Oct 10, 2022.
In his condolence message among other things, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his personal association with the former socialist leader and tweeted “I had many interactions with Mulayam Singh Yadav Ji when we served as Chief Ministers of our respective states. The close association continued and I always looked forward to hearing his views”.
Notably, in 2019 – Feb 13th – the last day of the 16th Lok Sabha, Mulayam Singh Yadav had admitted that the opposition parties would fail to win as many seats to oust Modi from power.
“Hum log toh itna bahumat mein nahi aa sakte haen, Pradhan mantri ji aap phir pradhan mantri baney (We cannot win as many seats to come to power. Mr Prime Minister, you will again become Prime Minister),” Yadav had said in Lok Sabha, making the most surprising political remark of circa 2019.
But that was the ear-on-ground Neta, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
With UPA stalwart Sonia Gandhi on his side, Mulayam Singh Yadav sprang a major surprise and without doubt, former UP Chief Minister’s praise on Modi created ripples down the political spectrum as Sonia Gandhi and perhaps also NCP lawmaker Supriya Sule were left surprised in the House.
The well televised episode in Lok Sabha saw PM Modi had acknowledged Mulayam’s ‘blessings and good wishes’ and also reciprocated to the Samajwadi Party leader with folded hands.
BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi later predictably welcomed the statement and had said: “The courtesy he showed proves that he (Mulauam) has risen over and above the party politics”.
“I think it is nothing but the acceptance of credibility of Narendra Modi in contemporary Indian politics after his government (since 2014) gave an inclusive development,” Trivedi told a private TV channel.
Of course, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah only had two-word tweet reactions to the episode-
On Monday, Oct 10, 2022, the Prime Minister speaking at a function in Gujarat recalled Mulayam’s unique gestures in 2019 and said only a man with a big heart could bless a political rival like that.
“He had blessed me in 2013 when BJP has named me as Prime Ministerial candidate and he continued to do so…,” the Prime Minister said paying respect to Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Two decades back, in 1999, Mulayam Singh Yadav had played the season’s ‘Man of the Match’ card and had declined to back Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister.
The so-called ‘sacrifice’ the Congress camp created later in 2004 (when Manmohan Singh was made PM) was only a spin-master’s game. Otherwise, Sonia was very much ambitious and was rather in a hurry to become Prime Minister in 1999.
After the Vajpayee government fell by one vote in 1999, Sonia Gandhi did not waste time and within hours rushed to the Rashtraptai Bhavan to meet the then President K R Narayanan and claimed, “We have 272, we will have more”.
This was a premature claim by then Congress chief and chairperson of Congress parliamentary party.
Next day, Mulayam Singh Yadav rushed to Rashtrapati Bhavan and gave a letter saying his party will not support Congress party and Sonia Gandhi’s leadership.
Of course, the impact Mulayam has left in Indian politics is far-reaching.
For one, he benefited immensely from the post-Mandal politics of V P Singh era as he too had used the ‘caste and Muslim appeasement’ idiom to emerge as larger than life politician in the likes of Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan.
For another, Mulayam was one key protagonist of the coalition era as the new culture of coalition making became a near long-lasting permanent feature of the politics of the 1990s.
Mulayam also served as Defence Minister under H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral after of course Lalu Praad Yadav reportedly scuttled Mulayam’s own prospect of becoming Prime Minister in 1996.
During UPA regime as a former Defence Minister, Mulayam was steadfastly against arbitrary withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from north-east and Jammu and Kashmir unlike many other leaders from the so-called third front brigade.
In 2014 when a major row triggered after a Ghar Wapsi programme (re-conversion of Christians to Hinduism) in Agra, Mulayam had stunned the Lok Sabha when he said a mountain was being made by other opposition parties. “Agra mein kucch nahi ho raha hae…” he had said.
In 2012, it is said he had played a key role in forcing Congress party to accept Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate. In 2002, he had supported BJP’s bid to make nuke scientist Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to become President.