Dimple Yadav had a faltered entry in politics. Her first scripted speech in Lok Sabha was such a disaster that it went viral on YouTube as ‘Dimple Yadav’s hilarious mistakes in Parliament’.
Dimple fumbled a dozen times, apparently for her inexperience in public speaking. BJP leader Rajeev Pratap Rudy, sitting behind her, chuckled but stood up to appreciate her and “congratulate Mulayam Singh Yadavji for his bahu’s speech”.
But that’s history.
The 2017 assembly election is Uttar Pradesh has seen Dimple emerge as the star campaigner of Samajwadi Party. She has also commanded more spotlight than many seasoned leaders across political parties.
“Now, she draws more crowd than me, more applause than me,” her husband and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said. He is not exaggerating.
Dimple, 39, wasn’t just the top woman campaigner, leaving former CM and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati behind in election tours and rallies. She also took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and turned Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah’s metaphorical ‘Kasab’, an acronym for the Hindi pronunciation of Congress-SP-BSP, on its head.
Her version of ‘Kasab’, underlining peaceful coexistence, prevented Shah from using it often while Akhilesh borrowed it for his rallies.
Admirers say Dimple doesn’t read out anymore. At every rally venue, she spoke eloquently and impromptu, using her hand gestures and eye movements to good effect.
Her evolution has not escaped YouTube, which is now flooded with videos that show her as a skilled politician, drawing cheers, claps and slogans such as ‘Dimple bhabhi, jeet ki chabhi (Sister-in-law Dimple is the key to victory)’.
Dimple hasn’t had the best of starts in politics. In 2009, she lost the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Akhilesh, to Congress’ Raj Babbar. But she won the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat, also vacated by Akhilesh, without a contest in 2012.
Today, she has virtually made the red SP cap a fashion statement after putting it on for the first time during the release of the party manifesto for 2017.
Dimple Rawat and Akhilesh Yadav met at a party in 1995 and love blossomed. This was shortly before Akhilesh left for Australia for higher technical studies. They married in November 1999.
Months after, Akhilesh won his first Lok Sabha election, a by-poll for the Kannauj seat. Dimple chose to be a genteel Yadav bahu as Akhilesh’s stature in the party rose.
Till February 8, 2017, Dimple had campaigned only for herself – first in Firozabad and then in Kannauj in 2012 – and never addressed an election rally. She came out after Akhilesh won the family feud and overshadowed party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. She addressed about 55 rallies from the very first of the seven-phase polls.
Her first campaign for a party candidate, on February 8, was meticulously planned. Akhilesh made party MP Jaya Bachchan introduce Dimple at a rally for Anshu Rani Nishad, the party’s candidate for Bah (Agra). Dimple took over after Bachchan said: “Dimple is your daughter-in-law, and gift her victory.”
Her campaign ended with a special appearance during Akhilesh-Rahul Gandhi’s joint rath yatra through the streets of Varanasi. She turned out to be the main crowd-puller, this quality attributed to her charisma and refined vocabulary.