What if Uttar Pradesh’s first-generation leaders were indeed freedom fighters, like the rest of the country? The second generation, which appeared in the late 60’s, was the Street Fighter. Many of these leaders were socialists, gained political experience on campus, fought tirelessly for the cause of their people, and rose to prominence during and after the emergency.
Mulayam Singh Yadav was the tallest and most prominent leader of his generation. He set new rules and benchmarks for political action in the UP and played a key role in the rest of North India as well. his death means the end of an era.
1. Rural claims
Ram Manohar Lohia rallied agricultural communities — many of whom would later constitute the Other Backward Class (OBC) — to “Sansopa ne baandhi gaanth, pichde paawein sau mein saath (The Samyukt Socialist Party made this decision OBC needs to get 60)” with the slogan “% of the total)”. Shortly after Mulayam Singh Yadav became MLA for the first time after Lohia died in October 1967, Jat leader Charan Singh consolidated the OBC, most of these groups rallied in favor of Vice President Singh after he resigned from parliament and were unwilling to accept their aspirations.
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ascension to power on December 5, 1989 began a long period in which the upper castes were kept from power in UP politics. This phase was uninterrupted except for brief periods in 1999-2000 and 2000-2002 when Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh became CMs, and the rise of Thakur Yogi Adityanath to power in 2017. It’s over.
It was under Murayam that a 27% reservation against post-Mandal OBC was implemented. Causing social turmoil, BJP led to his 1991 appointment of OBC leader Kalyan Singh as his CM. Mulayam went to his Yadavs and his OBC representation in government was improved overall. Importantly, some OBC communities that did not use surnames in the last few decades are now becoming confident enough to use surnames.
2. Entry of Dalits into the Corridors of Power
In 1977, when Ram Naresh Yadav became the UP’s first non-upper caste CM, the leading candidate for the job was Dalit leader Ram Dhan. However, with the advent of Murayam and his politics of social justice, Dalits were able to step in for the first time. This important fact is often obscured by narratives of rivalry between SP and Kansi his BSP in his ram.
A 1993 parliamentary poll taken after the demolition of Babri Masjid found that the BJP’s hopes of gaining from Hindu integration were dashed by Mulayam, who had allied with the BSP, previously seen as a minor player. However, the SP-BSP government did not last long — Murayam had its own political style and the BSP was impatient for power. Due to alliance conflicts, Mayawati became the UP’s first Dalit Prime Minister in June 1995, ironically gaining the support of the BJP.
The BSP then gained strength and Mayawati was able to single-handedly form a government in 2007 that lasted for a full five years. She has the longest serving as her CM for her UP so far, second is her Mulayam Singh Yadav herself. SP and BSP united again in her 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which BSP won 10 seats for him. The politics of both parties are now at a crossroads. BJP employs social engineering tactics that can no longer be countered by tactics like “M+Y,” which used to pay dividends.
3. Parliament-Mukt UP even before BJP
The day Murayam first took the oath in 1989 was the last day Congress held power in the UP. Prior to 1989, Muslims and Dalits were seen as the base of parliament, but in addition to most of the upper castes, Murrayam broke through this social alliance with their social justice politics and became a key figure in parliament’s recovery. I gave you an impossible blow. The “Congress-mukt Bharat” slogan given by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah before the 2014 Lok parliamentary elections was how it was realized by Murayam in his UP a quarter-century ago.
4. Among the tallest leaders of Muslims
The majority of Muslim votes shifted to Charan Singh when he defected from parliament, then became prime minister twice and briefly became prime minister of India.
Muslims later moved on to Vice President Singh’s Janata Dal and in later years became gravitated toward a political party believed to be able to defeat the BJP.
In the UP, Murayam was the main beneficiary — he relied on the Muslim-Yadav coalition as his core member. As shown, this endorsement has stood the test of time. But it remains to be seen how many Muslim votes remain loyal to the party Murayam founded, as SP won’t be in power until at least 2027.
5. Dynasty and Mighty Politics
The rapid criminalization of politics in the UP began during a state of emergency under leaders such as Sanjay Gandhi’s patrons HN Bahuguna and ND Tiwari. This trend continued during his Janata rule from 1977 to his 80s. The government of Deputy Prime Minister Singh, who came to power in June 1980, saw multiple encounter murders of criminals and dacoits alleged to belong to certain castes.
The tendency of criminal elements to find refuge in politics was strengthened under Murayam, who repeatedly faced allegations of protecting and promoting these elements. However, it left a scar on SP’s reputation.
Another allegation Murayam faced was establishing his party and his family in the politics of Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh has tried hard to remove this reputation from his SP as well.