We have lost a great leader: Akhilesh Yadav on Sharad Yadav’s demise

Former Union Minister Sharad Yadav. Photo: courtesy ANI

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, paid tribute to socialist leader and former Union minister Sharad Yadav at his residence in New Delhi and said that the country has lost a great leader.

Sharad Yadav breathed his last on Thursday at Fortis Hospital in Gurugram where he was rushed after he collapsed at his residence in Delhi. Speaking to the media persons outside Sharad Yadav’s residence, the SP chief said, “He was the person who went to every village and made everyone come together. He stood with people who had nothing. We have lost a great leader.”

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav also visited the former Union minister’s residence to pay his tribute and said that it is hard to believe that he isn’t with us anymore.

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“He always stood with people who wanted social justice. Even during his last days, we used to meet, he always said that all socialists must come together. It is hard to believe that he isn’t with us anymore,” said the Deputy Chief Minister.

In his political life spanning nearly five decades, Sharad Yadav served as a Union Minister, convenor of the National Democratic Alliance and the president of Janata Dal-United.
He was a prominent leader from the socialist block in parallel with other socialist leaders like the late Mulayam Singh Yadav and George Fernandes.

Sharad Yadav’s political career rose during the anti-Congress movement in the 70s.
The year was 1974, it was his Lok Sabha by-poll win from Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur as the opposition candidate against the Congress which boosted its political fight against the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

After Emergency, he won again in 1977 and marked himself counted among several leaders to have come out of the anti-Emergency movement.

In 1979 Yadav became the national general secretary of the Lok Dal. Eight years later, in 1987, he was involved in the events that led to the founding of the Janata Dal (JD) in 1988, under the leadership of V.P. Singh. When Singh became prime minister of a short-lived coalition government (1989-90), Yadav was inducted into the cabinet as head of the Textiles and Food Processing Industries Ministry.
Sharad Yadav served as a minister in the VP Singh government in 1989, but his highpoint came after a decade in the late 1990s, when he was in the fray against former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in Madhepura, a parliamentary seat dominated by voters from the Yadav caste, and drubbed the latter which earned him a ministerial berth in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

In 1997 Sharad Yadav became president of the Janata Dal. However, in 1999 a spilt happened in the party when he chose to make the Janata Dal a component of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government. A faction led by H.D. Deve Gowda strongly opposed that move and left the Janata Dal to form a new party that became known as Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S).

Sharad Yadav remained the head of his own faction, which took the name Janata Dal-United (JD-U). He served in the NDA cabinet as the minister of civil aviation, labor, and consumer affairs, food, and public distribution.

The JD(U) was reconstituted as a new party in 2003 after smaller parties merged with it.
In 2006, Sharad Yadav was elected party president. He was again elected to the Lok Sabha from Madhepura in 2009. But after the JD(U)’s defeat in the 2014 general elections, Sharad Yadav’s relations with Nitish Kumar saw a change.

In the Bihar assembly elections of 2017, when the JD(U) under Nitish Kumar realigned with the BJP (the two parties had been partners in the 2004 and 2009 general elections), Sharad Yadav refused to follow. He launched his own party Loktantrik Janata Dal, merged with Lalu Yadav’s outfit RJD in March 2020 which he said was the “first step towards a united opposition”.

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