The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stars missing as Yadavs cry for pound of flesh

New Delhi, Dec. 29: The All-India Yadav Mahasabha meet in Mathura today demanded niches in the judiciary, legislatures and the army while issuing a “proud to be Yadav” slogan.

Although bereft of the two Yadav stars, the conclave didn’t lack any of their forcefulness. The Mahasabha sought reservation in the judiciary, one-third reservation for Other Backward Caste women in Parliament and the Assemblies and a Yadav regiment in the army. And it would not have any of the argument about excluding the “creamy layer” from the OBC quotas.

Top draws Laloo Prasad Yadav of Bihar and Mulayam Singh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh were scheduled to address one of the biggest gatherings of the sizeable vote bank in cow-belt politics.

The Yadavs claimed to comprise about 20 per cent of the one-billion population. But both stayed away.

Mulayam made up for his absence by sending his heir apparent, Akhilesh Singh Yadav, an MBA graduate from a US university.

“This was to bring Akhilesh in sharp focus first among the Yadav community,” said a party activist. Akhilesh is an MP and has taken to full-time politics.

Laloo Prasad sent a fax, regretting his inability to attend as he was pre-occupied with an “abduction” on his home turf. He deputed legislator Kanti Singh, whom he had made a minister in the Centre during the United Front regime, to represent him.

Ministers, past and present, at the state and Central levels were present at the meet.

Cutting across party divides, Kailash Nath Yadav, BSP minister from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Mahendra Singh Yadav, his coalition partner and BJP minister, Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav of the former Congress regime and many of his colleagues showed up.

Holding forth among the heavyweights was All-India Yadav Mahasabha president D. Nagendhiran from Tamil Nadu.

“Mulayam Singh is certainly the leader of the 20 crore Yadavs of this country,” he said, responding to a local daily’s report that the Mahasabha had earlier passed strictures against Mulayam Singh.

Mahasabha general secretary Satya Prakash Singh Yadav, who is also a lawyer and one of the biggest builders in western Uttar Pradesh, declared that the newspaper should be burnt. Some militant Yadav youths instantaneously responded by burning copies of the Hindi daily.

The meet also honoured the “brave” among the Yadavs by paying homage to Jagdish Yadav, who was killed during the raid on Parliament, and others of his ilk who had laid down their lives in the line of duty at Kargil and earlier in 1962.

Whether the Mahasabha succeeds in wangling more benefits for the backwards or not, the meet shows that the caste group is becoming increasingly assertive in the knowledge of its sway on the political map of the heartland.

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