PATNA: Veteran socialist and former Union minister Sharad Yadav died Thursday at the age of 75, marking the end of an era that saw him elected to the Lok Sabha seven times and hobnob with a pantheon of political luminaries ranging from Jayaprakash Narayan to Lalu Prasad. His daughter Subhashini Sharad Yadav shared the news of his passing on social media with a three-word post: “Papa nahi rahen (Papa is no more)”.
An engineer by training, Yadav had been drawn to Ram Manohar Lohia’s socialism and broke into politics in 1974 when he pulled off an upset in the byelection to the Jabalpur Lok Sabha seat as the joint opposition candidate. His victory in the election, held against the backdrop of spiralling protests against the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government, was as much an embarrassment for the then PM as it was a fillip for Jayaprakash’s effort to bring opposition parties together against Congress.
Yadav would go on to make his mark as a powerful orator and retain Jabalpur in 1977, only to lose it in the next election — a setback that forced him to explore options outside his home state and brought him first to UP and, finally, to Bihar, which was to become his political home. He was a member of the Union cabinets of V P Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Although pushed to the margins in his twilight years, Yadav played an important role in shaping politics during the 1980s and the 90s. He played an important role in the formation of Janata Dal in the 1980s to successfully take on Congress in the 1989 Lok Sabha polls and was among the key players who prevailed on the then PM V P Singh to implement the Mandal Commission report. He also organised the OBC resistance to the proposal to introduce 33% reservation for women, dismissing the demand as a conspiracy of the upper caste elite and mocking the women activists championing it as ” parkatis”.
Although counted among the leading OBC lights who turned their version of quota-centric “social justice” and hardline secularism into one of the key themes of contemporary politics, Yadav had a chequered equation with socialists and Mandalites alike. His ties with Devi Lal and George Fernandes, and even V P Singh, followed a yo-yo pattern. He couldn’t get along with Mulayam Singh Yadav either. His ties with Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar ebbed and flowed, depending on each other’s political needs of the moment.
After losing to BJP in Badaun, the seat which he had won in 1989, Yadav shifted to Madhepura in Bihar. He was elected from the Yadav bastion in 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2009.
He handled portfolios of civil aviation and food in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government from 1999 to 2004. In between, he also became the president of the JD(U) after Janata Dal and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) parted ways. He lost in the 2004 parliamentary polls but emerged victorious again in 2009 from Madhepura.
Once considered to be good friends, Yadav and Nitish parted ways before he formed his own party, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), in 2018. This coincided with JD(U) inching close to BJP.
In the 2017 Bihar assembly elections, when the JD(U) under Nitish realigned with the BJP, Sharad Yadav refused to follow, for which the JD(U) sought his expulsion from the Rajya Sabha.
Later, Yadav parted ways with Nitish Kumar and founded his own party, the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) in 2018. Five years later, in 2022, Yadav merged LJD with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) which saw the latter emerging stronger. His daughter Subhashni was even given space in the RJD’s national council. Both Lalu and Nitish refused to be under his tutelage, but were not averse to roping him in when the need arose.
The rise of BJP under Modi pushed him into near obscurity : the last time he made headlines was when he lost the fight to retain his bungalow in Tughlaq Road and when Rahul Gandhi visited him. Being an astute politician, he read the tea lives well and merged his Rashtriya Janata Dal with RJD.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Yadav’s death with a tweet: “Pained by the passing away of Shri Sharad Yadav Ji. In his long years in public life, he distinguished himself as MP and Minister. He was greatly inspired by Dr. Lohia’s ideals. I will always cherish our interactions. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.”
Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav described him as the “Mandal messiah”. Tejashwi wrote, “I am in deep grief after hearing about the demise of this great socialist leader and my guardian. I am not able to say anything. I had a conversation with mata Ji and brother Shantanu. In this time of grief, the entire socialist family is with them.”





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *