Mulayalam Singh Yadav did his politics the old way, not through social media messages, never long distance alliances, never baulking from a face-to-face meeting, even with his arch enemy.
He was, probably, the last socialist leader of India. Mulayam Singh Yadav, who breathed his last on October 10 in a Gurugram hospital, grew up with the ideologies of Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayprakash Narayan at heart. He deviated a lot during his lifetime, but politics on the ground is a matter of compromise and this often takes very different routes than ideologies can dictate. Yet, Mulayam’ji in his 82-year life, rarely forgot his base, his people.
Not many leaders today go by those old principles, of knowing his/her constituency by heart; of knowing the people through and through; of having interacted with rich and poor alike; of having the ability to be humble before hoi polloi, yet remaining superbly alert, guarding against enemies from without, displaying an iron will and often arrogance when conditions demanded it.
Mulayalam Singh Yadav did his politics the old way, not through social media messages, never long distance alliances, never baulking from a face-to-face meeting, even with his arch enemy. These are qualities that maybe his wrestling career left him with, or values that education and a teaching career ingrained in him.
His socialist leanings have been doubted over the years, have been criticised, but even in his late years, when the phone had stopped ringing and the house was darker that he would have liked it to be, he would ask “bahar koi hai kya?” (is there somebody outside?). He had his followers, die-hard followers, people who hung on to the last commas of his ideological stand. He was loved.
That was how he build his alliances in becoming chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India. Some say he stood far taller than his alliance partners, and the shadow made others shivers, leading them to leave him in the lurch. But that was Mulayam; you cannot compare a Mayawati with such a figure.
India will miss not just his presence, but his sagacity, almost like Maratha Strongman Sharad Pawar. They don’t make people like that anymore.