Socialist leader Sharad Yadav bid goodbye to Lutyen's Delhi after nearly four decades. He vacated his 7 Tughlaq Road residence of 22-years on Tuesday, ending a roller-coaster career in Delhi and also bringing to a close an era of socialist politics.
“I am only changing houses, not my politics,” were his parting words. Moments before the trucks carrying the family’s belongings trundled out of the house, he paused to speak to reporters, reminding them of his legacy.
He is hard of hearing and his daughter Subashini Raj Rao has to shout out the questions to him. However, the hearing impairment does not come in the way of clarity of thought.
In his own assessment, he will be remembered for three things - Mandal, Caste Census, and ironically, the stalling of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
The decision by Prime Minister V.P. Singh's government to implement the Mandal Commission in August 1990 upended Indian politics. Mr. Yadav said that it is he who forced V.P. Singh's hand. It was his demand for a caste-based quota within the Women's Reservation Bill that ended up with the second UPA government holding back on the law.
In 2011, he claims, it was on his initiative that the Congress-led government started the caste census, which led to the Socio-Economic Caste Census. The figures pertaining to the caste census were never published. "It was the bureaucracy that muddled the caste census," he said. The Narendra Modi government's reluctance to conduct country-wide caste census is inexplicable, he added. "The caste census will not do anyone any harm," he noted.
From Jabalpur seat at 27
He came to Delhi 48-years ago after winning Jabalpur Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh at the age of 27-years in the 1974 general elections. He was expelled from JD(U) in 2017 after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to return to the NDA following the brief experiment of Mahagatbandhan - an alliance with Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). He was soon suspended from Rajya Sabha too with more than three years of his tenure pending. Despite the suspension, he stayed on 7 Tughlaq Road due to a court order.
The fatal charm of Lutyen's Delhi is difficult to break and there were speculations that the Rashtriya Janata Dal, with whom he merged his party Loktantrik Janata Dal (which was a non-starter) will offer a Rajya Sabha berth. He didn't want his farewell from the Lutyen's Zone to be tinted with regret. "All candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections have already been announced so why speak of it now. It is a dead horse; no use flogging it," he said.
As he shifts to the margins of Delhi to his daughter's home in Chhattarpur, his wife Rekha Yadav, says that it is not final adieu to the Lutyen's Delhi. "We will make a strong comeback," she said, pinning her hopes on her daughter Ms. Rao and son Shantanu, both of who have followed their father into politics. Ms. Rao had unsuccessfully fought the 2020 Bihar assembly elections on a Congress ticket and his son is aspiring to contest the next Lok Sabha elections.