Sharad Yadav, socialist who shined in saffron camp, passes away  

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, January 12: The Labrador dog would always stay with Sharad Yadav, and one would cautiously approach the veteran socialist in his living room at his Tughlaq Road flat. Sharad Yadav would first calm down the dog, pat him on his forehead. Sharad Yadav would then settle down with lemon tea for relaxed discussions that would be lengthy, as he would recall incidents and anecdotes.

In the corner of his eyes, Sharad Yadav would betray the emotion that the politics in the country changed too rapidly to make his brand of politics faded. He was reflecting at times when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a stage of domination in the Hindi heartland. The catchment area of the socialist politics was run over by the saffron juggernaut, and Sharad Yadav too had tasted electoral defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

Sharad Yadav passed away on Thursday. He was 75 years old. His daughter Suhashini Yadav broke the news to the world. The veteran socialist leader had been ailing for a while. In his death, he joins a galaxy of socialist leaders who have passed away in the recent years.

Sharad Yadav was the convener of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee headed the coalition government at the Centre. He would be the trouble shooter for late Vajpayee, ironing out differences within the alliance partners, as he connected with ease with the likes of the politicians from Tamil Nadu to Jammu and Kashmir.

His political career came a full circle as Sharad Yadav finally returned to his bete noire Lalu Parsad Yadav in the last days of his life, as he merged his fledgling political outfit with the Tejaswi Yadav headed party. Sharad Yadav once defeated Lalu Prasad Yadav from Madhepura Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar. While Sharad Yadav hailed from Madhya Pradesh, Madhepura was his ‘karmbhoomi’.

Sharad Yadav and George Fernandes were the two socialists who were close to late Vajpayee, and also Cabinet Ministers. When George Fernandes slipped into coma and his personal life became a public spectacle, it was Sharad Yadav who would be working to broker peace. Sharad Yadav had one regret that late Vajpayee wasn’t firm on post-Godhra riots. “We lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections because of the post-Godhra riots,” Sharad Yadav would confide in a number of interactions.

Jammu and Kashmir was in his heart, as Sharad Yadav would often talk of his experiences of the valley and the people. When the Kashmir valley was in the midst of relentless stone-pelting incidents, Sharad Yadav would yearn that an all-party delegation should go and talk to the youth and all cross-sections of the society to heal the wounds of the people. A seasoned Parliamentarian, Sharad Yadav was often cut to size by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar despite being the president of the JD (U). In the end, both fell apart, and Nitish Kumar ensured sought disqualification of the Rajya Sabha membership of Sharad Yadav. Nitish Kumar had also fallen apart with George Fernandes, as the veteran socialist was denied the last wish to win another Lok Sabha election from Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

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