Lucknow: Aparna Yadav, all of 26, says she was not interested in politics and was happy being a social worker, but was compelled to contest elections by her father-in-law and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and mother-in-law, Sadhna Gupta, Mulayam Singh's second wife. Aparna is married to Mulayam Singh's son Prateek, a businessman.
- Aparna Yadav, 26, says Mulayam Singh persuaded her to contest elections
- "Field me from anywhere and I will win", Aparna Yadav told NDTV
- Aparna, Mulayam Singh's 'chhoti bahu', will contest from Lucknow Cantt.
"They pressured me a great deal so I said ok, give me a ticket from anywhere and I will win," Aparna told NDTV with the confidence that rings everything she says.
Mulayam Singh's chhoti bahu (younger daughter-in-law) makes her debut in this year's Uttar Pradesh election in a tough contest from Lucknow against veteran politician Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the BJP. She is the Yadav family's 22nd member to enter politics and made a spirited defence of parivar or dynastic politics.
"Why is only the Yadav family the butt of jokes? Lots of sons and daughters of leaders enter politics. And no one says anything when a lawyer's son becomes a lawyer or an engineer's son an engineer," Aparna said, days after her brother-in-law and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav named her as the Samajwadi Party's candidate from Lucknow Cantt, a seat picked for her by her father-in-law.
There was suspense over that nomination after Akhilesh Yadav replaced father Mulayam Singh as party president, because Aparna is seen as a staunch supporter of Akhilesh's uncle Shivpal Yadav, who for months attempted to undermine the chief minister in a bitter family feud. Team Shivpal was said to be grooming Aparna to be an alternative to Akhilesh Yadav as the party's young face and eventually perhaps even the chief ministerial candidate.
Shivpal Yadav is now isolated, but Aparna is unequivocal in her praise for him. "Netaji (Mulayam Singh) is my role model. Akhilesh Bhaiyya is a youth icon. But Shivpal chacha is the Samajwadi Party's backbone," she said.
Aparna claimed she played "as much of a role as a bahu (daughter-in-law) could" to get the family back together. "Now there is unity, so it clearly worked," she said.
The daughter of a former journalist, Aparna studied at Lucknow's famous Loreto Convent and then got a BA Honours degree in English Literature. She has a post graduate degree in international relations and politics from the University of Manchester in England.
Aparna is a trained classical singer and often performs on stage. She has been married to Prateek Yadav for 5 years and they have a three-year-old child.
Sources say Mulayam Singh did not encourage Prateek to pursue politics as he wanted to make it clear that older son Akhilesh is his political heir. Sadhna Gupta reportedly insisted that at least Aparna must be fielded by the party.
Aparna's political debut will be far tougher than the one that Mulayam Singh arranged for his older daughter-in-law and Akhilesh's wife Dimple Yadav, who contested safe seats to become a party MP.
Aparna is contesting a seat that the Samajwadi Party has never won. Her opponent Rita Joshi, who has earlier been a state chief of the Congress and joined the BJP just four months ago, is the sitting legislator from Lucknow Cantt.
"Ritaji is my senior. I have had good relations with her but after I was fielded she has used very bad language to attack me, I have felt really bad," said Aparna, who has been working hard to woo voters in Lucknow Cantt.