SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav dies after prolonged illness

The Samajwadi Party (SP) founder and three-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, rose in UP politics in a period of intense social and political ferment after the 1970s. The Other Backward Classes (OBCs) had then started gaining political ascendancy in UP, leading to the sidelining of the Congress party dominated by upper-caste leaders. India’s most populous state was then also witnessing sharp communal polarization in the wake of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s aggressive Ram Janmabhoomi Temple campaign.

Emerging as a socialist leader, Mulayam soon established himself as an OBC stalwart, capturing a swathe of political space vacated by the Congress. He took oath as UP’s 15th CM in 1989, which marked the year when the Congress was voted out, failing to return to power in the state ever since. After the 1989 UP polls, Mulayam took over as the CM as Janata Dal leader with outside support from the BJP. He became the CM for the second time in 1993 as SP leader, when the Kanshi Ram-headed Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) became his ally. He was sworn in as the CM for the third time in 2003 as the leader of an SP-led coalition. His three stints together amounted to a period of nearly six years and 9 months.

A wrestler-turned-teacher, Mulayam, who was born on November 22, 1939, in Etawah, completed his MA (political science) and B.Ed degrees. He was elected as an MLA for the first time from Etawah’s Jaswantnagar in 1967 as a Samyukt Socialist Party (SSP) candidate, but lost the election in 1969 to the Congress’s Bishambhar Singh Yadav. Ahead of the 1974 mid-term polls, Mulayam joined Chaudhary Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Kranti Dal (BKD) and won Jaswantnagar seat on his ticket. He again won from this seat in 1977 on the Janata Party ticket. In the Ram Naresh Yadav government in late 1970s, he was co-operative and animal husbandry minister. In the 1980 polls, when the Congress bounced back, Mulayam lost his seat to the Congress’ Balram Singh Yadav. He later switched to the Lok Dal and was elected to the state Legislative Council as its candidate and also became the Opposition leader.

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