New Delhi: Indian politics likes to categorize its women in either the bahu (daughter-in-law) or the beti (daughter) category even though there have been some rather notable exceptions to the rule including Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and J. Jayalalithaa. Now there’s a new bahu in town and she wants you to notice her.
Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party (SP) “chief patron” Mulayam Singh Yadav is taking the plunge in the big bad world of politics by contesting from the Lucknow Cantonment seat in the ongoing elections. She’s been preparing for some time now, especially since last year when she first clicked a ‘selfie’ with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She has since followed up by expressing opinions on most issues ranging from cow slaughter to actor Aamir Khan’s comment on intolerance.
The daughter of a journalist (her father, Arvind Singh Bisht is now the state information commissioner of Uttar Pradesh), Aparna holds a postgraduate degree in international relations and politics from the University of Manchester. In an interview to Hindustan Times last year, she credited her father’s profession with her political consciousness.
Aparna, now 26, and the mother of a three-year old daughter, has been the brand ambassador for women’s rights NGO B-Aware for some time now but her talk on the campaign trail is mostly centred around development. In a recent report in The Indian Express, she claimed that she had undertaken development work worth around Rs40 crore in her constituency.
She is pitted against Rita Bahuguna Joshi, a Congress veteran who has now crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Joshi is the incumbent MLA from the constituency, and herself a beti . Her father was veteran Congressman and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh H.N. Bahuguna, who is unfortunately best remembered for losing to Amitabh Bachchan from the Allahabad constituency in the parliamentary elections in 1984.
The SP has just come out of a family feud that had the nation intrigued for the better part of a month. It saw chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav jockeying for control of the party. The feud seems to be over, but there has been talk of Aparna Yadav’s ambitions being one of the reasons for it. It is rumoured that since her husband, Prateek Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav’s half-brother, is more interested in his business, she has taken it upon herself to be the inheritor of Mulayam Singh’s legacy.
Aparna herself has chosen to downplay down the rift in the family and referred to both Mulayam’s and Akhilesh’s contribution to the state and the party. She has also emphasized her closeness to Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav, a member of Parliament. Both Mulayam and Dimple have campaigned for Aparna.
Despite her lineage, Aparna is no sure-shot winner. The Lucknow Cantonment seat was with the BJP between 1991 and 2012 when Joshi (then with the Congress) wrested it away. Now the bahu is up against the beti.