22 November: Remembering Mulayam Singh Yadav on his Birth Anniversary
Mulayam Singh Yadav (22 November 1939 – 10 October 2022) was an Indian politician and government official who founded and was the longtime leader of the Samajwadi Party of India.
Mulayam Singh Yadav was born on 22 November 1939, in Uttar Pradesh, India. In the beginning, he wanted to become a wrestler, but then he enrolled at Agra University for a master’s degree in political science. When he was 15, he discovered the writings of Indian socialist Ram Manohar Lohia and got into politics.
Yadav was a teacher before he got into politics. He taught at Jain Inter-College in Karhal, Mainpuri, in 1963. After getting his master’s in 1974, he became a lecturer.
He won his first election in 1967 when he won a seat in the lower chamber of the Uttar Pradesh legislature. After being reelected in 1974, he was arrested in 1975 and held for 19 months during Indira Gandhi’s state of emergency. He won back his seat in 1977 after being released.
He also became president of the Lok Dal (People’s Party) in 1977. Later that year, he became the leader of Lok Dal-B, which split from the main party. In 1980, he was appointed president of the Janata Dal (also called the People’s Party) in the state, but he lost his bid for another term. Despite this, he was elected to the upper chamber of the assembly in 1982 and served as leader of the opposition there until 1985. He was elected to the lower house again in 1985, and he led the opposition there until 1987.
In November 1990, after V.P. Singh’s government collapsed, Yadav joined Chandra Shekhar’s Janata Dal (Socialist) party and stayed in office with the help of INC. His government fell after the INC withdrew its support for Chandra Shekhar’s government in response to national developments. Mulayam Singh’s party lost power in the Uttar Pradesh assembly mid-term elections in mid-1991.
Yadav founded the Samajwadi Party (Socialist Party) in 1992. In 1992, Hindu right-wing mobs destroyed the Babri Mosque, causing violence across India. He allied with the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1993 for elections to the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
In 1993, Yadav became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh second time. He lasted less than two years this time because the pro-Dalit (“untouchable”) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) left the coalition in 1995, and the BJP took over with its support. It started an era of bitter politics between the two parties and between Yadav and Mayawati.
He turned his attention to national politics as Yadav’s party was relegated to the sidelines in Uttar Pradesh. He came close to becoming prime minister of India in 1996 after winning a seat in the Lok Sabha (lower chamber). In the UF government that lasted until early 1998, Yadav held the defense portfolio. In 1998 and 1999, he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha.
With a plurality of seats in the 2002 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the SP made a dramatic comeback. Yadav became chief minister for the third time in 2003 after a BSP-BJP coalition government collapsed. Yadav was elected to the Lok Sabha again in 2009 after the BSP trounced the SP in the 2007 state assembly elections. During the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2012, the SP won an outright majority. Although Yadav remained the party leader, he stepped down to let his son, Akhilesh Yadav, become chief minister.
He died on 10 October 2022, in Haryana, India.