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SP's Dimple Yadav, Only Candidate in 3 Decades to Enter Lok Sabha Unopposed, Aims for Hattrick in Kannauj

SP's Dimple Yadav, Only Candidate in 3 Decades to Enter Lok Sabha Unopposed, Aims for Hattrick in Kannauj

Dimple Yadav is the SP's two-time MP from Kannauj and the 44th person ever to win uncontested in a Lok Sabha seat. And she is also former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's wife and daughter-in-law of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav.

If Bollywood director Suraj Barjatya ever made a film about a political family, he need not look any further than Uttar Pradesh's Samajwadi Party for inspiration. Apart from raging sibling rivalry and father-son feuds at its centre, the party also boasts of its very own "bahu" - the demure yet firm Dimple Yadav - a quintessential part of every Barjatya film as well as the family that rules SP .

Dimple Yadav is the SP's two-time, sitting MP from Kannauj and the 44th person — the only one in the last three decades — to win uncontested from a Lok Sabha seat in India.

And she is also former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's wife and daughter-in-law of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The first win came in 2012, when her husband vacated Kannauj LS seat to become UP chief minister. But that victory was preceded by a bitter lesson in electoral politics.

Akhilesh Yadav contested and won 2009 LS polls from two seats, Kannauj and Firozabad. He chose to retain former. In the Firozabad by-polls thereafter, Dimple in her maiden elections was defeated by Congress' Raj Babbar by a comfortable margin.

In 2014, in the face of the Modi wave, she, however, managed to retain her seat. Only five SP MPs in UP could win that elections. In UP, the figure was 7, and you could count the winners on the fingertips.

Much like a true "bahu" and "bhabhi", an image that Dimple has carefully worked on in the last two years, the politician on recently chose to come out in support of motormouth party veteran Azam Khan.

Khan had been facing flak for some sexist comments he recently made against BJP MP and former actress Jaya Prada, BJP's 2019 Lok Sabha candidate from Rampur. Dimple, who herself is running once again from Kannauj after winning the seat in 2014, came to Khan's rescue and in true 'bhabhi' spirit dismissed Khan's comments as "choti si baat" (a minor matter).

Recently, she even touched the feet of long time SP-rival Maywati, chief of Bahujan Samajwadi Party, in a symbolic move to mark the historic alliance.

Though it has taken some pretty harsh YouTube gaffe and meme videos of her fumbling speeches to go viral on social media, Dimple has come a long way both in terms of electoral gains and within the party itself, rising from the ranks of being a nervous novice in politics, reading speeches out of pieces of paper, to becoming a firm speaker, channeling her 'bahu' and 'bhabhi' image to the party's benefit.

Dimple was said to be an influence in the launch of some of the social sector schemes — especially the ones for women- which were launched by SP during Akhilesh's tenure. The party campaign, in fact, projected Akhilesh and children which was seen a part of image makeover attempted by the party to reach out to urban votes.

In 2017 UP elections, Dimple emerged as a star campaigner for the party. She was endearing to the youth, whom she interacted with as a "bhabhi". She sought votes on her husband's behalf and outshone many seasoned leaders in terms of campaigning. Akhilesh even told the media that she attracted more crowds than him at election rallies and he wasn't making an overstatement. In fact, some media houses reported that crowds at her rallies trumped even BSP supremo and the erstwhile queen of crowd-pulling, Mayawati, a big accomplishment for a woman candidate in male-dominated UP.

It was, after all, the soft-spoken Dimple who took the sharp sting out of BJP's "Kasab" acronym barb regarding "unholy" the Congress, SP and BSP alliance. She stood up to the formidable Amit Shah and set out her own version of the acronym: "Computer, Smartphone, Bachche (children)", thus turning the barb on its head and projecting SP as the party for development.

She also projected the "bahu" image to win over party seniors as well as voters, seeking their support and votes as a "mooh-dikhai" present for her, the bride.

One of three daughters of an army man, Dimple has lived and studied in various places such as Pune, Bhatinda, Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lucknow before graduating with a B Com degree. After meeting Akhilesh at a party in 1995, she married him in 1999. The latter began his journey in politics soon after. Since then, Dimple has been a resilient shadow, defending her husband's seats and political career like a rock.

Kannauj has five Assembly seats, out of which four are occupied by the BJP and one by SP. Though Dimple managed to beat BJP candidate Subrata Pathak in 2014, her winning margin was less than 20,000. And that when all the Assembly seats were occupied by SP.

The fact that she has been chosen once again to defend Fort Kannauj, a seat that has sent Socialist leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia and SP bigwigs Mulayam and Akhilesh to Parliament and is under SP control since 1998, is proof that the party is throwing its weight behind the Yadav "bahu". Akhilesh has himself come out several times in support of his wife's abilities to command crowds and her future potential as a party leader. She also has the support of alliance partners BSP and RLD as was evident from the teeming crowds and supporters from both parties that thronged her chariot ride after she filed her LS 2019 nomination.

With BJP in power both at the Centre and state, Dimple is once again up against Pathak and a tougher fight could be expected this time. However, the fact that SP is in alliance with BSP and RLD could help turn the wave in Dimple's favour. And a third victory may cement Dimple's reputation as a seasoned MP and a powerful leader within SP in her own right and not just a shadow of the illustrious Yadav men.

Kannauj is going to polls on Monday, along with 71 other constituencies in Phase four of Lok Sabha elections.