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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

A sea of people and political dignitaries bid a tearful farewell to Mulayam Singh Yadav

Last rites of Veteran socialist leader and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh were held with state honours at his native town Saifai in Uttar Pradesh. Leaders from across the political spectrum and a sea of supporters bid him final farewell. 

The crowd had started gathering at Saifai since morning. Mulayam lay with the red signature cap of the Samajwadi Party and the party’s flag wrapped around him. Ceremonial Indian flag was also laid on him. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav were among a galaxy of leaders who paid their last respects to the departed leader. 

At around 3:30 pm, his son Akhilesh Yadav lit the funeral pyre and the crowd, jostling around for the last glimpse of their leader, raised a resounding slogan- “ Netaji Amar Rahe”. Thousands of hands holding mobile phones went up to capture his last moments. 

The Yadav family let go of their differences and long standing feud to stand together next to Samajwadi Party patriarch’s remains. His second son Prateek’s wife Aparna Yadav had joined the BJP just weeks ahead of the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and openly campaigned against her brother-in-law Akhilesh Yadav. On Tuesday, both Ms. Aparna and her husband were seen standing with the rest of the family. As was his cousin and key adviser Ramgopal Yadav. His nephew and former MP Dharmendra Yadav stood openly weeping. His long time friend and colleague Azam Khan, who himself has been keeping unwell was seen standing around for a long time. 

Due to the crowd, many of the security protocols had to be abandoned. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s escort vehicles could not breach the crowd and he walked the rest of the way till the platform where the body was kept. Speaking to presspersons, Mr. Singh said, “I shared very warm relationship with Mulayam ji and we had a long association. The political divide did not come in between our equation. In Parliament, he would often cross over from the Opposition Benches to sit next to me in Treasury Benches whenever he wanted to speak to me.” Amidst the jostling crowds, Union minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Joyti fell down and had to be taken to the district hospital for first aid.  

Many of his colleagues and contemporaries also came to Safai for the final farewell including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) patriarch Sharad Pawar accompanied by his daughter Supriya Sule, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President Chandrababu Naidu, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and former general secretary Prakash Karat.

The funeral was not without its political moments. The Congress had deputed Mr. Baghel and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath to represent the party. The party also circulated the written order signed by Congress’s General Secretary (Organisation) to the media and yet, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot came down on his own accord. Party’s Presidential hopeful Mallikarjun Kharge was also present.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also came down to pay his last respects to Mulayam who was a sitting member of Parliament representing Mainpuri Lok Sabha Constituency. A strong contingent of State BJP leaders too were present including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak along with Cabinet Minister Jitin Prasada and senior BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Businessman Anil Ambani who shared a long standing relationship with Mulayam Singh also came down as did Samajwadi Patry Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan along with her son Amitabh Bachchan. The Bachchan family used to regularly attend the Safai Mahotsav which was celebrated to mark Mulayam Singh’s birthday.

Samajwadi Party ally and Rashtriya Lok Dal Chief Jayant Chaudhary also came for the funeral. Mulayam Singh Yadav had first become Uttar Pradesh in 1989 after successfully snatching the seat from his father Ajit Singh. Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait and Aam Aadmi Party’s Uttar Pradesh face Sanjay Singh were also present. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, too, was seen accompanying Akhilesh Yadav at the ceremony.

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