On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a virtual address at the 10th death anniversary of Harmohan Singh, noting: “When the country’s democracy was crushed during the Emergency, all the major parties came together and fought to save the Constitution. Chaudhary Harmohan Singh Yadavji was also a fighting soldier of that struggle.”
Harmohan Singh had a long, illustrious career starting 1952, when he became a village pradhan, followed by his election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council from 1970 till 1982. A Kanpur-based leader, he was a member of the Socialist Party and Janata Dal. Harmohan Singh was also instrumental in establishing Mulayam as the community’s tallest leader.
He was a long-time national president of the Akhil Bharatiya Yadav Mahasabha, an organisation with a presence among Yadavs in many parts of the country.
In 1991, Harmohan Singh was elected to the Rajya Sabha and was subsequently nominated for a second term in 1997.
During his speech, Modi also referred to the role Harmohan Singh had played to save Sikh residents of Kanpur during the 1984 riots after Indira Gandhi’s killing. He had been awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his efforts. “Harmohan Singh Yadavji not only took a political stand against the Sikh massacre, but he came forward and fought to protect Sikh brothers and sisters. Without caring for his life, he saved the lives of many innocent Sikh families,” Modi said.
The SP continues to have a hold over the Kanpur-Bundelkhand region, and co-opting Harmohan may help the BJP – which has identified the Akhilesh Yadav-led party as the only one standing in its way in UP – capture some of the Yadav votes.
The Other Backward Castes (OBC) population in the state is around 27 per cent and the Yadav community constitutes nine per cent of the OBCs.
A senior BJP leader said their eye was on securing the Yadav votes for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in the region. “As Harmohan Singh’s family members have held top posts in the Akhilesh Bharatiya Yadav Mahasabha, they have a good connect with Yadavs across UP and other parts of the country,” the leader said.
Harmohan Singh’s son Sukhram Singh Yadav, was an SP MLC, and a Rajya Sabha member from 2016-2022. His other son, Jagram Singh Yadav, is a two-term former SP MLA and continues to be a member of the party.
However, earlier this year, ahead of the Assembly polls, Sukhram’s son Mohit Yadav had joined the BJP.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Mohit did not rule out the possibility of Sukhram too joining the BJP. “If Modi ji will direct him, he may join the BJP.”
Asked why he chose to join the BJP, Mohit said, “The real definition of samajwad prevails only in the functioning of the BJP. Where the socialism and cultural nationalism of Ram Manohar Lohia exists, my entire family will go there.”
However, there may be some pushback from other members of the family over aligning with the BJP, evident in the preparations leading up to Harmohan Singh’s birth anniversary last year. Jagram had organised a programme and invited SP president Akhilesh Yadav, while Mohit had planned a separate event with BJP leaders.
This time around, Sukhram and Mohit called on the PM to invite him for the death anniversary event. But the PM could only join virtually because of engagements in Delhi, local BJP leaders said.
Other senior BJP leaders of the state, including Assembly Speaker Satish Mahana and former deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma were present at the event.