U.P. Assembly polls | Mulayam’s daughter-in-law Aparna joins the BJP

Inducted in Delhi, she has for long shared her political affinity to the saffron party

January 19, 2022 11:23 am | Updated 09:16 pm IST - Lucknow

Aparna Yadav being welcomed by Keshav Prasad Maurya (left) and Swantra Dev Singh (right) during the join BJP, at the BJP HQ in New Delhi on January 19, 2022. | Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Aparna Yadav being welcomed by Keshav Prasad Maurya (left) and Swantra Dev Singh (right) during the join BJP, at the BJP HQ in New Delhi on January 19, 2022. | Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Aparna Bisht Yadav, the younger daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Wednesday finally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a prolonged period of display of political affinity towards the saffron party’s ideas, programmes and leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Also read: Akhilesh dismisses speculation about sister-in-law joining BJP

She was inducted into the BJP in New Delhi, and not Lucknow, as the party tried to project her as a big catch from the Yadav family ahead of the 2022 Assembly. Ms. Yadav, who is the wife of SP president Akhilesh Yadav’s stepbrother Prateek Yadav, however, does not have any personal political track record or base. She has contested only one election so far, the 2017 Assembly election on an SP ticket, when she lost to the BJP’s Rita Bahuguna Joshi from the Lucknow Cantonment seat.

Ms. Yadav, who is known for having a different political view from that of the SP, said she had always been influenced by Mr. Modi and the BJP’s schemes and programmes. “In my thinking, the nation comes first. Rashtra dharma is most important for me,” she said while being inducted.

A thakur by birth, Ms. Yadav is the daughter of senior journalist Arvind Singh Bisht, and has been active in women empowerment campaigns through her NGO B-Aware. She has a Masters degree in International Affairs and Politics from Manchester University and has also studied classic music.

Her views shared with the media, and social media activity, have often been a cause of embarrassment to the SP. Her husband Prateek, a physical trainer known for his flamboyant lifestyle, often put the SP’s socialist image under the scanner.

Not only has Ms. Yadav expressed her admiration for Mr. Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but also strayed from the SP’s political line on reservations, speaking out against caste-based reservation, and even donating money for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

U.P. Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya said that even though Ms. Yadav was the “ bahu ” (daughter-in-law) of Mulayam Singh, the views she expressed often appeared to him as “ Bhajapayi ,” or the views of the BJP.

Also read: Keshav, the RSS’ home-grown Maurya

Mr. Maurya said that Ms. Yadav joining the BJP showed that Mr. Akhilesh Yadav had failed in his family as well as a CM and MP.

While SP workers celebrated Ms. Yadav’s formal shift to the BJP online, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav made light of the situation. “I am happy that the Samajwadi ideology is expanding. I hope our ideology will reach there [the BJP] and save the Constitution and democracy,” Mr. Yadav said.

He, however, also said that Mr. Mulayam Singh had tried to persuade her against joining the BJP.

Also read: News Analysis | Tasting the malai of power — caste fissures come out in the open in U.P.

Several members of the Yadav clan are active in politics, including Mr. Akhilesh’s uncles Shivpal Yadav, Ram Gopal Yadav, and his cousins Akshay Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, five members of the Yadav family contested. While Mr. Akhilesh and his father won, from Azamgarh and Mainpuri, respectively, his wife Dimple Yadav lost her seat Kannauj, while Mr. Ramgopal’s son Akshay Yadav lost in Firozabad amid a friendly battle with his uncle Shivpal, who finished third. Mr. Akhilesh’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav, who is popular among the youth, lost his constituency Budaun, despite the support of the BSP.

The decision to introduce Ms. Aparna Yadav into politics ahead of the 2017 election was announced by Mr. Shivpal amid a family feud, which eventually became one of the many reasons for the SP’s humiliating losses at the hands of the BJP.

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