Dressed in a simple green sari, her hair tied back, her husband by her side, Dimple Yadav
addressed a huge rally in Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday morning. Like any politician about to contest an election, she reminded the gathering of their special connection. "I want to thank all of you... for many of you, I am 'Bhabhi' (sister-in-law)", she said. (See pics)
Mrs Yadav will contest the Lok Sabha election from Kannauj, a constituency represented thrice by her husband Akhilesh till he won an outsized victory in the recent state elections and took over as chief minister of the state. Mr Yadav, who at 39 is UP's youngest chief minister, had to vacate his Lok Sabha seat to become a member of the state assembly.
Mrs Yadav, 35, hopes to replace him. She filed her nomination on Tuesday morning. Mr Yadav said, "I cannot campaign for my wife so I appeal to the people of Kannauj to make Dimple win." As the couple talked to NDTV, Dimple returned the favour - she scored her husband's government of almost three months an eight on ten on performance. (Watch
) And though Mr Yadav says he will not have the time to campaign much for his wife, she was quick to highlight her main advantage: "As the chief minister's wife, I am the best option for working for the people of this area."
The election is scheduled for June 24. In a gesture loaded with meaning, the Congress has decided not to put up a candidate against Mrs Yadav. "We had not contested the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha election and we are not contesting it now," Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said. He pointed out that the Congress had also not fielded a candidate against Mr Yadav's father, Mulayam Singh, in the Lok Sabha election for Mainpuri.
As head of the Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh provides external support to the Congress-led UPA government. In recent weeks, as tension between the Congress and its ally Mamata Banerjee has peaked, Mulayam Singh has been seen as a possible white knight. He has said that he will not join the UPA, but at a recent dinner hosted by the PM for members of the UPA, Mulayam Singh was shown preferential treatment. He was on stage with other UPA members even though he does not participate in the government; then he was seated at UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's dinner table.
His daughter-in-law is unlikely to take her election for granted, even though Uttar Pradesh voted for her husband in record numbers. In 2009, her husband effortlessly won two Lok Sabha seats - Kannauj and Firozabad. He chose to represent the former in Parliament, and she was handpicked to contest the by-election for the latter. Firozabad was said to be unhappy at being dumped by Mr Yadav and the Congress muscled in, fielding ex-Samajwadi Party man and actor Raj Babbar against Dimple Yadav. The party then made a focused effort to ensure her defeat; even Rahul Gandhi had campaigned for Mr Babbar, who won. In the run-up to the Assembly polls in UP, Mulayam Singh had said after Mrs Yadav's defeat in 2009 that the women of the Yadav household would not enter electoral politics again.
Former chief minister Mayawati has not yet named her candidate for Kannauj. The BJP has fielded Jagdeo Singh Yadav.
Akhilesh and Dimple were married in November 1999. They have three children, Aditi and twins, Arjun and Tina.