One of the “bahubalis (strongman)” in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Ramakant Yadav went toe to toe with Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, to whom he was once considered to be close, in Azamgarh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and lost.
Yadav who is now an SP MLA from Phoolpur Pawai in Azamgarh district surrendered to a local court last week in a 24-year-old case of attempted murder. Adding to his woes, the court on Saturday sent him to 14-day judicial custody in connection with a spurious liquor case registered in February.
According to the police, Yadav, a five-time MLA from Phoolpur Pawai and a four-term MP from Azamgarh, is a history-sheeter with around two dozen cases against him. Though his son Arun Kumar Yadav was the incumbent BJP MLA from Phoolpur Pawai in the last Assembly, the SP fielded Ramakant from the constituency in the elections earlier this year, hoping to cash in on his grip on the area. And the move paid off.
The police claim that Ramakant’s nephew Rangesh Yadav was running the spurious liquor business with his uncle’s blessings. Rangesh is the prime accused in the case. Arun Kumar Yadav, who is still in the BJP, claimed that the cases against his father were registered as he raises the voice of the poor and the downtrodden. SP national spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhary also defended the MLA, accusing the BJP government of harassing Ramakant. “The cases in which he is being framed are politically motivated. Rangesh Yadav is a distant relative of Ramakant Yadav and the MLA has no links to his business,” said Chowdhary.
Start of political journey
Ramakant, who is from Azamgarh, is the youngest of three siblings, all of whom went into politics. His eldest brother Lallan Prasad is a seven-time pradhan of Sarwa village in Azamgarh while his second brother Umakant Yadav is the former MP of Machalisahar in Jaunpur district. He is currently in prison.
“Before 1985, when he fought the Assembly election, Ramakant had not contested any other election. He won the 1985 election only after local residents requested him,” said one of the MLA’s close associates.
After winning Phoolpur Pawai four times — 1985 and 1991 as an Independent, 1989 on a BSP ticket, and 1993 and 2002 for SP — Ramakant contested his first parliamentary election in 1996 on an SP ticket and won. He retained the seat in the 1999 general elections. After that, he left SP to rejoin the Bahujan Samaj Party and in 2004 won his third straight Lok Sabha election. Following some differences, he switched to the BJP and again retained the seat in the 2009 elections. Five years later, Mulayam Singh Yadav ended Ramakant Yadav’s winning streak.
He left the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and unsuccessfully contested on a Congress ticket from Bhadohi. After a few months, he found himself back in the SP.