UP Election 2017: After Akhilesh, Dimple Yadav now second-in-command at the Samajwadi Party?

Editor's Note: This article was first published in Firstpost Hindi. 

Up until the rift in the Yadav clan, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and wife Dimple Yadav were just another power couple. She showed up at state events, standing next to him or behind him. Recently, when Akhilesh released the party manifesto for the upcoming legislative assembly elections, along with his wife, Akhilesh was sporting the party’s signature red caps and flashing the manifesto in the absence of the Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav. Voices around her are still echoing a range of opinions on the SP-Congress alliance. Internal sources say that Dimple has been a voice of reason at a politically volatile time. In fact, Priyanka Gandhi’s outreach and Dimple’s mediation has led to the much-needed agreement on 105 seats. Certain political analysts suspect that if the newly fostered women-led alliance campaigns together in the region, it can thwart the Modi wave. In the wake of evolving dynasty dynamics and the parting of political scions in her family, the 39-year-old seems ready to take up the baton.

Feviquick Point

Those who are known to the family often refer to Dimple as its ‘feviquick’, sealing cracks big and small and keeping the political family glued through thick and thin. After initial hesitation, the family approved of her courtship with Akhilesh and welcomed her as their daughter-in-law in 1999. In the 2009 by-elections, Dimple lost to Raj Babbar in Ferozabad. Then in 2012, Akhilesh vacated his political seat in Kannauj and Dimple was elected unopposed from the region. She has a modest, austere and rule-abiding vibe about her, which reinstates the Yadav family’s political and cultural ideals. “She is a warm and simple person. Ever since her marriage to Akhilesh, she has maintained cordial ties with everybody,” says Ajant Singh Yadav, Mulayam’s brother-in-law.

Women Empowerment and the Yadavs

Dimple Yadav. PTI

Dimple Yadav. PTI

Political analyst Harshvardhan Tripathi is in awe of her. “Dimple’s image is that of a progressive woman of the house and the youth identifies easily with this refreshing mix of tradition and modernity. She represents empowerment,” he points out. He goes on to add that Akhilesh derives much-needed moral strength from his partner. She brings a beautiful kind of stability to their union, which is always in the public eye. Surprisingly, she isn’t the first woman from the family to step into politics. Shivpal Yadav’s wife Sarla Yadav, Ramgopal Yadav’s wife Phoolan Devi, Dharmendra Yadav’s wife Neelam Yadav, Mulayam’s younger brother Rajpal Yadav’s wife Premlata and Mulayam’s second wife Sadhna Gupta and his sister Sheela Yadav have also tried to spin the political roulette. None however have had the fortune to become the party’s public face quite the way Dimple has. One of the reasons for this is that unlike other women who have sat around and waited for instructions, Dimple has boldly come forward and played a key role in positively influencing Akhilesh’s personal and his political mannerism.

A Favourite with the Family

Akhilesh’s cousin Abhishek Yadav says, “We have grown up receiving affection from her. She has an aura of friendliness that makes us forget that she comes from a different caste.” Ask him the secret of the power couple’s chemistry and he grins. “Only the two of them know the secret to that but I can safely say that they haven’t changed a bit after coming to power. They remain the same humble people. I am sure they are proud of each other, just the way we are proud of them” he says with a broad smile. On the issue of the newly developed crack in the foundation of the Yadav household, he reveals that everything is as is. The family still sits down for meals together. Tina and Arjun (the couple’s twins) still spend time with their grandfather and we feel the problems too will subside soon. On the question of her growing political role, Abhishek admits that as the wife of the chief minister, it is expected of Dimple to his energy and increase his connect with the masses. Will she be seen campaigning alongside Priyanka, another woman backed by political dynasty? “You will have to wait and watch,” he says.

Backdoor Management

A close associate of the Yadavs, Kamal Faruqui (who was also Ex-Chairman Delhi Minorities Commission) explains that from some kind of a self-created backdoor, Dimple is managing operations in the political family. “She gives great emphasis to maintaining healthy relationships and that is what defines her strength of character,” he says. Harshvardhan reminds us that whenever Mulayam lashes out at his son for being close to ‘Non-Yadavs’, he is not only hinting at Abhishek Misra, Udayveer Singh, Sanjay Lathar, but also at Dimple Yadav, who was born into the more prosperous Rawat caste and shares a good tuning with Akhilesh’s friend circle. “In a way, she represents the non-Yadav among the Yadavs,” he says.

Peaceful and Powerful

Veterans, who have watched her closely, believe that she is well-versed in political causes and consequences. Be it her address at a FICCI event in 2013 or a speech on women parliamentarians delivered in 2014, her effortless clarity has attracted attention. It should be known that she handles Akhilesh’s social media page and plays a key role in shaping women and children centric policy in the state. It is no coincidence that a month after a video on the battle between her husband and father-in-law came out in the media, she released another video titled ‘Apne toh apne hotey hain (Blood is thicker than water)’ that refreshed tender moments from their relationship in public memory. Despite being outspoken and clear, she seems cautious of sharing the stage with Aparna Yadav and Sadhna Gupta. Aside from one odd family function, she is never seen with them. It is thus assumed that Dimple is quite clear about her likes and dislikes.

Faruqui professes that Dimple will emerge as a strong leader and take her family from strength to strength in the political battlefield that is Uttar Pradesh.

Published Date: Jan 26, 2017 11:31 AM | Updated Date: Jan 26, 2017 11:31 AM

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