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With Many Political Stalwarts Gone, Uttar Pradesh Keen to See How Their Wards Fare at The Hustings

In the RLD, it will be the first election Jayant Chaudhary will be leading his party without his father and former Union minister Ajit Singh, who died on May 6, 2020. (Image: News18/File)

In the RLD, it will be the first election Jayant Chaudhary will be leading his party without his father and former Union minister Ajit Singh, who died on May 6, 2020. (Image: News18/File)

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav too has largely stayed away from the hurly-burly of electoral politics due to ill health and is rarely seen in public.

With several political stalwarts of Uttar Pradesh no longer on the scene, it will be keenly watched how their children lead at the hustings this time without their formidable presence. Be it former chief minister Kalyan Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh, BJP leader Lalji Tandon or Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma, all of them have commended the state's politics over several decades and will be missed in the high-stakes assembly polls to be held between February 10 and March 7.

All of them died in the last two years. Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav too has largely stayed away from the hurly-burly of electoral politics due to ill health and is rarely seen in public.

"Actions and words of these stalwarts had political meaning and were keenly watched by rivals to formulate their strategy. But this time these stalwarts will not be there in the poll battle physically and will be missed by the electorate in Uttar Pradesh. Now it will be for the generation next to prove themselves in their absence," political analyst J P Shukla said. These leaders could sway people and communities and rearrange political alignments.

BJP leader and Hindutva poster boy Kalyan Singh, who passed away on August 21, 2021, managed to unite non-Yadav OBC castes for his party in the state. He had a good presence and acceptance in western Uttar Pradesh and his "blessings" ensured victory of his grandson Sandeep Singh in the last assembly election in 2017 from Atrauli seat in Aligarh district. Kalyan Singh's son Rajveer Singh is a BJP MP from Etah seat.

The defining moment of Kalyan Singh's life was the fall of Babri mosque in 1992 and his quitting as chief minister owning its moral responsibility. His death is termed a big loss to the BJP. "Kalyanji was one of the senior most leaders of the party. Obviously his absence will be felt in the election. But the party is there with his family and has already declared ticket for his grandson Sandeep and his victory is certain," a BJP spokesperson said.

In the RLD, it will be the first election Jayant Chaudhary will be leading his party without his father and former Union minister Ajit Singh, who died on May 6, 2020. Though Ajit Singh tasted defeat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, his hold over the Jats in the western region of the state was admired even by his rivals.

"The people of West UP have respect for Ajit Singh ji. This time they will pay him tribute by establishing the leadership of Jayant Chaudhary and ensure that the next government is formed with SP. There is a wave for RLD in the region," RLD national secretary Anil Dubey told PTI. The RLD has forged an alliance with the Samajwadi Party this time.

Former Bihar governor Lalji Tandon, once considered close to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a prominent BJP face in Lucknow, too will be missed this election. He died on July 21, 2020 and his son Ashutosh Tandon, who is a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, will have to contest the election in his absence. In the Samajwadi Party, the baton has now moved to Akhilesh Yadav, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Due to health concerns, Mulayam Singh Yadav is practically indisposed. "Netaji (Mulayam) comes to meet us at party office frequently and guide us. With his training and guidance, the party is going to form the next government under the leadership of Akhileshji," SP MLC Rajpal Kashyap said. The party will also miss its leaders Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma. Singh died on August 1, 2020, while Verma passed away on March 27 that year.

When the Samajwadi Party went through a bitter power struggle before the 2017 assembly polls, Amar Singh had sided with Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Shivpal Yadav and the fight went to the Election Commission. Ultimately, Akhilesh Yadav won the battle and the party symbol. Beni Prasad Verma left the SP in 2009 but rejoined it in 2016 and was made a member of the Rajya Sabha. His son Rakesh Verma is in active politics and is a prospective SP candidate from Barabanki. Another stalwart and known face of Raebareli, Akhilesh Singh, died on August 20, 2019.

In his absence, his daughter Aditi Singh is carrying forward his political legacy. Aditi Singh, who left the Congress to join BJP, represents Raebareli Sadar in the assembly now. A five-time MLA, Akhilesh Singh was considered as the "Robin Hood of Rae Bareli" and was popular among a large number of its residents.

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first published:January 17, 2022, 18:31 IST