Samajwadi family plot: A profile of arguably India’s largest, divided, political family

Samajwadi family plot: A profile of arguably India’s largest, divided, political family

Even by the standards of Indian political dynasties, the great Samajwadi parivar has few parallels.

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As the party heads into a difficult electoral battle, it is showing the first signs of a serious and public rift.

It was nearly 50 years ago that Mulayam Singh Yadav was first elected as an MLA. Seventeen other family members have followed him into public life since. Even by the standards of Indian political dynasties, the great Samajwadi parivar has few parallels. So far, Mulayam has juggled the sons, daughters-in-law, brothers, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandnephews reasonably well, adjusting, re-adjusting, finding a position for each. However, as the party heads into a difficult electoral battle, it is showing the first signs of a serious and public rift.

1. Mulayam Singh Yadav, 77
The patriarch
* Post-graduate, Political Science
* MP, Azamgarh

Assets worth: Rs 15,96,71,543 (wife’s assets included); as per 2014 electoral affidavit

Elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly from Jaswant Nagar seat in Etawah on the Socialist Party ticket in 1967, he was a three-time MLA before he first rose to national attention as the Cooperative Minister in the Janata Party government of 1977. When he lost in 1980, like many other Janata Party leaders, he found a place in the UP Legislative Council.


Mulayam is the only leader in the state to have been leader of opposition in both Houses. He has served as CM thrice (1989-1991, 1993-1995 and 2003-2007), been MLA eight times, and is now into his fifth term as MP. While he took over as CM for the first time as a Janata Dal leader, he floated the SP in 1992 with colleagues like Beni Prasad Verma and Reoti Raman Singh after the Janata Dal disintegrated. The same year, Ramgopal was elected to the Rajya Sabha, while Shivpal was Etawah Cooperative Bank chairman and yet to enter politics. Two years after the 2007 loss to Mayawati, Mulayam began encouraging Akhilesh, by then an MP, to spend as much time as he could in Lucknow, meeting party leaders and workers from across the state. By the 2012 Assembly polls, Akhilesh had developed a reach across the state in the party, particularly as a “youth leader”.

A close family friend in Etawah says that while Shivpal was reluctant to propose Akhilesh for CM in 2012, Ramgopal and other family members stood by Mulayam’s decision. Ram Sewak Yadav, Mulayam’s childhood friend from Etawah, also played an important role in projecting Akhilesh as CM.

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2. Akhilesh Yadav, 43
Son of Mulayam’s first wife, the late Malti Devi; UP Chief Minister
* Bachelor’s in Engineering, Civil Environment

Assets worth: Rs 7,21,51,310 (wife’s assets included); declared in March 2012

After engineering from Mysore University in 1994-1995, followed by a post-graduation from Australia, Akhilesh made his direct entry into politics in 2000, contesting and winning the Lok Sabha by-elections from Kannauj. Few in the SP opposed Mulayam’s decision to bring him into politics. As MP, Akhilesh used his MPLADS funds well, and retained his seat in the next polls and in 2009, despite the SP on the slide by then. He still harbours a soft corner for Kannauj, now represented by wife Dimple, and has introduced some big projects for the district in his tenure.

By the 2012 Assembly elections, as the SP tried to recover from the big 2007 loss to the BSP, Akhilesh was being projected as the “youth face” of the party. With the Congress campaign in the state led by Rahul Gandhi, who appealed to the same vote bank, Akhilesh provided a good counter-weight. He introduced iPads and campaign vans to the SP campaign, a drastic change from how the old-world SP functioned. Akhilesh went on to cover a most of the 403 constituencies during the campaign, and the SP’s win with a majority on its own for the first time was seen as a victory of his style of working. A proud Mulayam watched as Akhilesh took over as CM.

However, in the Cabinet formation, Mulayam held sway. Even Shivpal and Ramgopal had to wait for six months before they could bring their men in. Of the two, Akhilesh was from the beginning seen to be closer to Ramgopal as he had backed him as CM against Shivpal’s objections.

As the Akhilesh government entered its last lap, and disenchantment with the SP grew, Mulayam has often and publicly rebuked his son and his ministers. Earlier it appeared a bid to keep up the public impression of a concerned Mulayam, but lately Akhilesh had started hitting back. And found Ramgopal almost always on his side.

3. Dimple Yadav, 38
Akhilesh Yadav’s wife
* B.Com
* MP, Kannauj

Assets worth: Rs 28,05,16,415 (spouse’s assets included); as per electoral affidavit, 2014

Daughter of an Army officer, Dimple married Akhilesh in 1999 after a courtship of about four years. In 2009, Akhilesh floated her name as the party’s candidate in the by-election for the Firozabad parliamentary seat.

In the general elections earlier that year, Akhilesh, who had also won from Kannauj, had vacated his Firozabad seat. Dimple, who was seen as a reluctant politician, was no match for the Congress’s Raj Babbar, a former Samajwadi Party leader whose plank against Dimple that election was pariwarwaad (nepotism) and alleged corruption in the party. Before long, Dimple was in the race again, this time in a bypoll for the Kannauj parliamentary seat. In 2012, after Akhilesh moved back to UP to take over as CM, Dimple was elected unopposed from Kannauj, her first win. In the 2014 polls, she retained the seat.

In the last seven years that she has been in politics, Dimple is known to keep her distance from party activities and party leaders. While in Lucknow, she spends time with her two daughters and son. Her name has never figured in any controversy but for one case of disproportionate assets, where she is named along with her husband and other Yadav family members.

The case has been closed.

4. Ramgopal Yadav, 70
Mulayam’s cousin;
SP general secretary
* PhD
* Rajya Sabha MP

Assets worth: Rs 10,49,03,998; as per 2014 electoral affidavit

The block head of Basrehar in Etawah, Ramgopal began his political career in 1988, just before Mulayam became CM for the first time.

Within four years, the SP had sent him to the Centre as a Rajya Sabha MP. He has only once been elected to the Lok Sabha, in 2004.

Also the SP general secretary since 1996, Ramgopal is known to have good relations with other parties at the Centre, and after Amar Singh’s expulsion, was the party’s face in Delhi.

Till Mulayam sided with Shivpal in the recent family feud, Ramgopal, or ‘Professor saab’ as he is known in party circles, was seen to be one of the SP chief’s most trusted advisers. While Ramgopal and Shivpal have long vied to be in the good books of Mulayam, what may have gone against Ramgopal is his firm opposition to Amar Singh.

Shivpal, who doesn’t like Amar Singh either, was wiser in reading which way the wind was blowing and stood by Singh.

5. Akshay Yadav, 29
Ramgopal’s son
* MP, Ferozabad

Assets worth: Rs 10,08,83,304 (includes wife’s assets); as per 2014 electoral affidavit

While the SP ticket to him from the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat in 2014 had fanned the tensions between Ramgopal and Shivpal, Akshay has largely kept away from party activities and also the goings-on in native Etawah and Mainpuri. Married, he spends most of his time in Delhi.

In the recent feud, he only made an appearance after cousin Arvind Singh was expelled by Shivpal, saying action should not be taken against anyone without verifying allegations. Ramgopal had two other sons and a daughter. While the middle son died, Akshay has a older brother.

6. Dharmendra Yadav, 38
Son of Mulayam’s brother Abhay Ram
* Post-graduate, Political Science
* MP, Badaun

Assets worth: Rs 14,99,05,46 (includes wife’s assets); as per 2014 electoral affidavit

While father Abhay Ram is not in politics, Dharmendra is a second-term MP from Badaun. He is the key organiser of the Saifai Mahotsav, a Samajawadi Paty event held around Mulayam’s birthday. After Amar Singh’s expulsion from the party, it fell upon Dharmendra to organise cultural events for the party, including inviting film stars, which is a hallmark of the festival.

By ensuring the festival’s ‘success’, even when the SP was not in power, Dharmendra has proved his worth to the party. Dharmendra, who divides his time between Delhi and Badaun, is a regular in Parliament, with an attendance of 94 per cent.

7. Sandhya Yadav, 38
Mulayam’s niece
* District panchayat chairman, Mainpuri

Assets: Not available

Dharmendra’s twin sister, Sandhya is married to former Samajwadi Party MLA Urmila Yadav’s son. She is also known to play an important role during family functions at Saifai. She was asked to contest the panchayat polls as the family wanted to keep the post of district panchayat chairperson within. She won the elections under the direct supervision of Ramgopal and Dharmendra. She entered politics only this year. Now she largely looks at official work from home.

8. Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, 27
Mulayam’s grand-nephew; RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son-in-law
* MP, Mainpuri

Assets worth: Rs 42,55,56,96; as per 2014 electoral affidavit

The youngest of the family MPs, Tej Pratap alias Teju did his MBA from Leeds University, UK, after which he returned home to Saifai. He spent most of his time in Saifai, helping Abhay Ram on the family farm, until he won from Mainpuri in a by-election. Mainpuri had been vacated by Mulayam, who also won from Azamgarh in the 2014 general elections. Tej Pratap is married to RJD leader Lalu Prasad’s daughter and now spends most of his time in Delhi.

9. Mridula Yadav
Tej Pratap’s mother
* Block head, Saifai, since 2015

Assets: Not available

The source of Mridula and Tej Pratap’s prominence in the SP lies also in the fact that the Saifai Mahotsav is dedicated to the memory of Mridula’s late husband Ranveer. Mridula earlier stayed at the family home in Saifai, but now stays in Delhi with Tej Pratap. She is the block head at Saifai, a post she was elected to in 2015.

10. Arvind Singh
Ramgopal’s nephew; ex-block head, Karhal (Mainpuri)
* Post-graduate, Political Science

Assets: Affidavit not available on Election Commission website

The son of Ramgopal’s sister, who was elected MLC only two months ago, Arvind became the first casualty in the ongoing feud. He was sacked from the party a day after Shivpal took charge as state president, for alleged remarks against Mulayam. Arvind, who joined politics five years ago after being elected block head of his native Karhal, denies the allegations.

11. Billu Yadav
Ramgopal’s nephew
* Post-graduate
* Current block head, Karhal

Assets: Not available

Billu is Arvind’s brother and succeeded him as block head of Karhal in the panchayat polls held last year. Billu helps his brother look after the family business related to farming and property.


12. Shivpal Yadav, 60
Mulayam’s brother; SP UP president
* BA/B.PEd
* MLA, Jaswant Nagar

Assets worth: Rs 6,03,26,146 (includes wife’s assets); as per 2012 electoral affidavit

Shivpal is the youngest among the Yadav brothers, with Mulayam at number two. He started out as chairman of the District Cooperative Bank in Etawah, in 1988. In 1996, as Mulayam moved to the Centre as defence minister, he gave his seat Jaswant Nagar in fiefdom Etawah to Shivpal. Ramgopal was SP general secretary at the time.

Till August, Shivpal’s wife Sarla was the Etawah District Cooperative Bank Director.

Shivpal was made SP UP president for the first time in 2009, after the death of an old friend of Mulayam who held the post. While Akhilesh was an MP at the time, he replaced Shivpal as SP chief after a few months. Recently, when Shivpal replaced Akhilesh, he harked back to that switch.

Despite being removed as party chief, Shivpal remained a power centre. Between 2003 and 2007, however, the party equations worked fine, with Ramgopal still SP general secretary.

In 2014, rumours of Shivpal and Ramgopal’s growing differences started making their way out of close-knit party circles after Mulayam chose to field Ramgopal’s son Akshay from the Ferozabad Lok Sabha seat that year. Shivpal wanted the same for his son Aditya. Shivpal, who registered his protest with Mulayam, reportedly believed Akhilesh had a hand in the selection.

13. Prateek Yadav, 29
Son of Mulayam’s second wife Sadhna Yadav
* Businessman, runs a gym, has real estate interests

Assets: Not known

Stays away from party activities and politics unlike his wife. Insiders say it was not Prateek but his mother Sadhna Yadav who initially pushed for her son to join politics and contest the Lok Sabha election. Some Mulayam supporters from Azamgarh and Fatehgarh even staged demonstrations at the party office in Lucknow demanding a ticket for Prateek. The episode ended after Prateek did not show any interest, and suggested that his mother promote his wife Aparna instead.

In the current row, Prateek and Aparna have stayed away from making any statements. However, the fact that Prateek and Akhilesh are hardly seen together in public isn’t lost on the SP.

14. Aparna Yadav, 26
Prateek’s wife
* Post-graduate (International Relations and Politics)
* SP candidate from Lucknow Cantonment for 2017; runs an NGO, B-Aware

Assets: Not known

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Daughter of a former senior journalist, Aparna is serious about politics, backed by her mother-in-law. Shivpal is believed to have helped Aparna get an Assembly ticket from the constituency she chose. Lucknow Cantonment incidentally is not a favourite of party leaders and workers, given that it has never been won by the SP. So Aparna’s choice of seat sent a message.

Aparna first showed an interest in public life through her NGO, B-Aware. Earlier, she made news for praising PM Narendra Modi on several occasions. A classical singer, Aparna has even sung songs for the party campaign, composed by Bollywood musicians, and takes part in cultural and other events held by the party in Lucknow or family’s native place Saifai.

15. Aditya Yadav, 28
Shivpal’s son
* B.Tech
* Chairman, UP Pradeshik Cooperative Federation Ltd; IFFCO director

Having lost the Lok Sabha ticket to Ramgopal’s son Akshay, Aditya is seen to be biding his time before his political debut. The two posts he holds, to which he was elected by honorary members of the society, come with salaries and perks. Both the departments have huge assets across UP.

While Aditya earlier used to stay away from public appearances, as the family feud heats up, he is a regular besides Shivpal. In the current controversy, he was present with his father throughout, including when Shivpal addressed his supporters at midnight outside his residence and when he visited Mulayam in Delhi and Lucknow.

Party insiders say Shivpal is set to give Aditya some key responsibility in the party and field him from his seat , Jaswant Nagar, in next year’s Assembly polls. However, party leaders admit Aditya’s influence is limited to being Shivpal’s son.

16. Dr Ajant Singh Yadav, 62
Mulayam’s brother-in-law
* PhD
* Block head, Basrehar (Etawah)

Assets: Not available

The husband of Mulayam and Shivpal’s sister, Kamla Devi, Dr Ajant Singh Yadav enjoys more power than Mulayam’s immediate family members in Etawah. After he retired as principal of Manbhawti Jansahyogi Inter College at Basrehar in Etawah about four months ago, he was elected block head of Basrehar. He lives with his family in Friends Colony in Etawah city, and has a farmhouse nearby. He also has farm land in Basrehar.


17. Anshul Yadav, 28
Mulayam’s nephew
* District panchayat chairman, Etawah

Assets: Not available

Son of Mulayam’s brother Rajpal, Anshul succeeded his mother Premlata to the post of district panchayat chairman this year. He is a strong contender to get an SP Assembly ticket in the coming polls. Anshul spends a majority of his time in Delhi, either at Tej Pratap’s place or at Dharmendra’s residence. The family is believed to be the neutral party in the ongoing feud between Ramgopal and Shivpal.

18. Anurag Yadav
Mulayam’s nephew
* SP national secretary, youth wing

Assets: Not available


Dharmendra’s brother, Anurag, has a dairy business in Lucknow. He keeps his distance from party activities though he has been the national secretary of the SP youth wing, Yuvjan Sabha, for several years now. People close to him in Lucknow claim Anurag had been offered a chance to contest both in the panchayat and the Assembly elections, but he refused. Anurag is on good terms with everyone in the family.