Singh Yadav
, Samajwadi Party patriarch and one of the tallest leaders of
post-independent India, died aged 82 at Gurugram’s Medanta Hospital on Monday,
October 10. Yadav was at the heart of Uttar Pradesh politics for nearly four
decades. In his long political career, Yadav, who was lovingly called Netaji by
admirers and supporters, had served as chief minister thrice and even had a
stint as the Union Defence Minister.

Yadav was
among those charismatic youths who had risen to the top of Hindu heartland
politics following the JP Andolan, the movement spearheaded by freedom fighter
Jai Prakash Narayan. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar
shared in this pedigree.


married young. He was only a teenager when he married Malti Devi in 1957.
Malti, at the time, was 14 years old. She was born in 1943 in UP’s Etawah
district, the same village of Saifai, where Mulayam Singh was born.

In 1974,
when Mulayam and Malti Devi gave birth to their only son, the future chief minister
Akhilesh Yadav, Malti Devi slipped into a vegetative state. She remained in
that state until her death in 2003.

rising through the ranks of Indian politics, having gone to jail in the
Emergency, and become one of the biggest leaders of India’s largest state by
population, began a tepid romance with Sadhna Gupta in the 1990s. Sadhna, was
20 years younger than Mulayam.

How did
Mulayam and Sadhna meet?

The details
of Mulayam Singh and Sadhna Gupta’s relationship have always been kept away
from the media. However, the Yadav family was aware of the romance. Sadhna Gupta
had come into Mulayam’s life after he learnt that she had cared for his mother,
Murti Devi, according to Sunita Aaron’s book Badlav Ki Lahar.

The book
says Sadhna took care of Mulayam’s mother during her treatment at a nursing
home in Lucknow and later at the Saifai Medical College. “A nurse in the
medical college was going to inject a wrong drug to Murti Devi, which came to
Sadhna’s notice as she was present there at the moment, and she stopped the
nurse from doing so,” according to a translation of the excerpt.

budding romance and luck

It is said
that Mulayam was impressed by Sadhna’s deed and the two became close. Later,
Mulayam began to believe that Sadhna was lucky for him.

Mulayam and
Sadhna made their relationship public in the true sense only in 2003 after
Malti Devi passed away. Sadhna’s relationship with Akhilesh Yadav was said to
be warm. She’d said in 2017 that she thought of Akhilesh as her elder son.

question on whether Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sadhna Gupta are married remained a
mystery until 2007 when the three-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister submitted
before the Supreme Court of India that he and Sadhna were married and Prateek
was his son.

Gupta died after a prolonged illness in June this year at Gurugram’s Medanta
Hospital. Four months later, Mulayam Singh Yadav died at the same hospital aged
82, ending an epic era of Indian politics.