Mulayam Singh Yadav, founder of the Samajwadi Party and a three-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, died this morning after weeks in hospital. He was 82 years old.
The Samajwadi Party quoted Mulayam Singh’s son, Akhilesh Yadav, as saying, “My respected father and Neta-ji of all have died.”
Mulayam Singh had been in critical condition for days and had been taking life-saving medication at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. She was going to be 83 years old in six weeks.
“I am saddened by the death of Mulayam Singh Yadav; he was a remarkable personality and was widely admired as a down-to-earth and humble leader,” wrote Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of the first to publish a tribute to him.
“He was a remarkable personality, widely admired as a humble and down-to-earth leader,” he said.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Aditanath said he felt deep sadness and announced a three-day state mourning in the state.
Many leaders visited Mulayam Singh in hospital in his last days.
Although he had been away from active politics for a while, with his son Akhilesh leading the party since 2017, he was counted among the prominent opposition forces in the country. To the Samajwadi Party, it remained “Neta-ji”, a term even his son used for him.
Mulayam Singh, one of the leading politicians in Uttar Pradesh, was also the Union Defense Minister in 1996-1998.
Prime Minister Modi said that as Defense Minister, Mulayam Singh worked for a stronger India. “Your parliamentary interventions of him were insightful,” the prime minister said.
In 2019, Mulayam Singh praised Prime Minister Modi in parliament, even wishing for his return as prime minister after the national elections. Opposition benches were stunned.
Born on November 22, 1939, Mulayam Singh first became an MLA in 1967. During his second term as an MLA, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency and Mulayam Singh, like many opposition leaders, went to jail.
Mulayam Singh was elected 10 times as an MLA and seven times as a Lok Sabha MP. For a time, he was even seen as a candidate for prime minister.
A former wrestler, Mulayam Singh was known to be a shrewd politician who was undeterred when it came to making deals, even with bitter rivals.
For power in Uttar Pradesh, he joined Mayawati’s BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), BJP or Congress when needed.
In his long career, he was affiliated with a number of parties: his mentor Ram Manohar Lohia’s Sanyukt Socialist Party, Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Bharatiya Lok Dal, and the Samajwadi Janata Party. He founded the Samajwadi Party in 1992. In 1996, when opposition parties tried to form a non-BJP alternative to Congress, Mulayam Singh was briefly among the candidates for prime minister.
In recent years, Mulayam Singh has seen the party he founded slip away from him and fall into the hands of his son Akhilesh Yadav, who became chief in 2017 after a coup.