Yogendra Yadav says his family, friends know him as Salim
What's in a name? Ask Yogendra Yadav, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from Gurgaon, and he quotes family history, seeped in secularism.
On Thursday, at a rally in Ghasera village in Mewat, Yadav for the first time admitted that he did have a Muslim name Salim. He claimed that he was named so by his father as a secular response to the murder of his grandfather in a communal riot in 1936.
"The story goes back to 1936. My grandfather, a school headmaster, was murdered while trying to stop a Muslim mob from entering the school. My father was seven years old then. He also witnessed another massacre during the Partition. It was out of that secularism that he decided to give his children Muslim names," said Yadav.
"My sister was named Nazma. However due to societal pressure he changed her name and decided that his first son shall be given a Muslim name," he said.
Yadav was forced to drop his Muslim name after being constantly mocked by children. "At the age of five, when I started going to school, I used to be mocked constantly by my fellow classmates and neighbours because I was the only person with a Muslim name. It was then that I changed my name to Yogendra Yadav," he added.
Yadav claims he is still known as Salim among close friends and family.
"My close friends, my family and my wife still call me Salim. It was supposed to be an accorded secret within my family and never meant to come out in public," he said.
He blamed opposition parties for spreading the rumour that he was using the Muslim name to seek Muslim votes.
"They (opposition party workers) are trying these tactics to suggest Hindu voters that my inclination is only towards Muslims voters," said Yadav.