Mulayam Singh Yadav, the founder of the Samajwadi Party and three-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, died this morning after being hospitalized for several weeks. He was 82 years old. Mulayam Singh’s son Akhilesh Yadav was quoted by the Samajwadi Party as stating, “My esteemed father and everyone’s Neta-ji has died.”

Mulayam Singh had been critically ill for some days and was receiving life-saving treatment at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. In six weeks, he would turn 83. “. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s death pains me; he was a wonderful personality and was universally admired as a humble and grounded leader,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, among the first to pay tribute.

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“He had a great personality,” he remarked, “widely appreciated as a humble and grounded leader.” Yogi Aditanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, expressed deep sadness and declared a three-day official mourning period in the state. During Mulayam Singh’s dying days in the hospital, many politicians paid him visits.

Though he had been out of active politics for some time, with his son Akhilesh running the party since 2017, he was still considered one of the country’s most powerful opposition forces. For the Samajwadi Party, he was known as “Neta-ji,” a term even his son used to refer to him.

Mulayam Singh, a significant politician in Uttar Pradesh, was also the Union Defence Minister from 1996-98. PM Modi stated that Mulayam  worked for a stronger India as Defence Minister. “His contributions in Parliament were intelligent,” the Prime Minister added. Mulayam Singh lauded Prime Minister Modi in parliament in 2019, even praying for his return as Prime Minister after the national election. The opposition benches were taken aback.

Mulayam Singh, who was born on November 22, 1939, initially served as an MLA in 1967. During his second term as an MLA, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed an emergency, and Mulayam, along with many other opposition leaders, was imprisoned. Mulayam Singh was elected MLA ten times and Lok Sabha MP seven times. For a time, he was even considered a Prime Ministerial candidate.

Mulayam Singh, a former wrestler, was known as an intelligent politician who didn’t back down when it came to striking deals, even with bitter enemies. When it came to power in Uttar Pradesh, he worked with Mayawati’s BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), the BJP, and the Congress.

Throughout his long career, he was a member of several political parties, including his mentor Ram Manohar Lohia’s Sanyukt Socialist Party, Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Bharatiya Lok Dal, and Samajwadi Janata Party. In 1992, he created the Samajwadi Party. Mulayam Singh was briefly among the candidates for Prime Minister in 1996, when opposition groups attempted to build a non-BJP alternative to the Congress.

Mulayam Singh has seen the party he created moving away from him and into the hands of his son Akhilesh Yadav, who became chief in 2017 following a coup.

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