The emergence of regional parties and weakening of single-party rule in the country led to the emergence of several regional leaders who now have an eye on the Prime Minister's post or have acquired the status of king makers. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is one such leader.
Mulayam knows his strength lies in India's largest state, Uttar Pradesh, if he has to make his dream come true. Hence, he decided not to compromise on seats in the state and go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls despite cosying up with the Congress. He has been an ardent critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party. He was also among the first to have raked up the issue of foreign origin of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Mulayam missed the opportunity to be the Prime Minister in 1996-97 when he had to concede the seat first to HD Deve Gowda and later IK Gujral for lack of unanimity among the third front leaders. He served as Union Defence Minister in Deve Gowda and Gujaral's cabinet.
He has been re-elected as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the third term, the earlier stints being in 1989-91 and 1993-95. He has been elected to Uttar Pradesh assembly for six terms and has been elected to the Lok Sabha for three terms.
Born on November 22, 1939 in village Saifai in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam has been attracted to politics during his student days. He was the president of Etawah Degree College and Students Union, K.K. College, Etawah during 1962-63.
He was inspired and influenced by the socialist thoughts and ideology of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia and joined politics after coming into close contacts with Madhu Limaye, Karpoori Thakur, Ram Sewak Yadav, Raj Narayan and Janeshwar Mishra. He was also greatly influenced by former Prime Ministers Chowdhary Charan Singh and VP Singh.
He was jailed nine times during different political agitations.