Mulayam Singh Yadav passed away
The Uttar Pradesh government has announced a three-day mourning in remembrance of the Samajwadi Party patriarch

Mulayam’s ability to connect with marginalised people set him apart

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Mulayam Singh Yadav, the champion of downtrodden, breathed his last this morning at a Gurugram hospital. His mortal remains have been taken to his native place Saifai, where he will be accorded a state funeral.

The Uttar Pradesh government has announced a three-day mourning in remembrance of the Samajwadi Party patriarch.

The one who identified with the masses

Ramesh Dixit, an academician based in Lucknow, recalled how ‘Netaji’ — as Mulayam was popularly known — always identified with the masses and their cause.

Also read: Mulayam: Astute politician with a finger on pulse of caste politics

“He wasn’t like the other leaders who would selectively visit the homes of their supporters; he would randomly walk into the homes of his people. This is what distinguished him. Partymen knew well that if they fought and got injured for Netaji, then Netaji would always tend to them in their hour of grief,” Dixit fondly remembers.

He had this great gift of remembering people even if he had met them once. He would call people from Etawah and Mainpuri by name. That was the sort of connect he developed with them, the scholar said.

Mulayam’s welfare plank

”His socio-welfare initiatives remain unmatched. The cycle campaign to encourage education and the practise of giving cash to families in order to save them from dowry-related problems, were the highlights of his outreach program,” Dixit said.

Explaining Mulayam Singh’s outreach, Dixit said although he did not fit the definition of an ideal political leader — one with charisma, oratory prowess, certain level of education — Netaji surpassed these requirements with his biggest weapon: his ability to mobilise people and establish a special connect with the marginalised populace.

How ‘Dhobi Paat’ found its way into politics

Known in the wrestling arena for his signature move ‘Dhobi Paat’, in politics, Mulayam was neither hesitant in speaking his mind nor implementing what he believed in. It is his initial training in wrestling which went to solidify his struggle and dedication towards the causes of downtrodden, recalls Shtarudra Prakash, SP legislator, who served in Mulayam Singh’s cabinet during 1990s.

“Netaji always came back from difficult situations. He was a fighter,” said the former minister.

Recalling Netaji’s unflinching devotion towards his people, Prakash narrated instances when the SP patriarch would finish meeting more than 1,000 people by 7.30 am when he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. “Unlike other leaders, he held a janata durbar where people would voice their concerns and Netaji would personally preside over them,” said Prakash.

Samajwadi Party from here on

Veteran Lucknow-based scribe Sharat Pradhan said Akhilesh Yadav has chosen to remain quiet on vital issues concerning the Muslim community. He appears a little hesitant, when it comes to being vocal on issues (CAA, NRC and the Bilkis Bano case to name a few) that concern the Muslim community. This is glaring as SP as a political party relies heavily on the Muslim-Yadav combination. Pradhan also sees a division among the Muslim vote bank if the Congress can steady its ship in the state. “With a slightest revival of the Congress, a portion of Muslims may move away from the SP, ” cautioned the veteran journalist.

Also watch: Mulayam Singh Yadav passes away at 82

Commenting on intra-party issues, Pradhan said when Netaji was around, he always tried to underplay feuds at the party level — Akhilesh and Shivpal Yadav being a case in point. Although, Netaji had a soft corner for Akhilesh, he tried his best to pacify Shivpal by accommodating his demands, stated Dixit.

The SP patriarch is survived by Akhilesh, his son from his first wife, Prateek, a son from second wife Sadhna Gupta, and grandchildren, apart from his brothers.

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