NEW DELHI: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Friday paid tribute to socialist leader and former Union minister Sharad Yadav, who passed away last night. The Wayanad MP reached Yadav's Delhi residence and met the family members of the late leader.
"I have learnt a lot about politics from Sharad Yadav Ji. His passing away today has left me saddened. He shared a relationship of respect with my 'dadi' (Indira Gandhi)," Rahul Gandhi told reporters while leaving Yadav's residence. Sharad Yadav breathed his last on Thursday at Fortis Hospital in Gurugram where he was rushed after he collapsed at his residence in Delhi.
The veteran leader was suffering from kidney-related issues for a long time and regularly underwent dialysis. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed condolences over the demise of the veteran politician and founder-member of Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JDU).
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi said, "Pained by the passing away of Shri Sharad Yadav Ji. In his long years in public life, he distinguished himself as MP and Minister. He was greatly inspired by Dr Lohia's ideals.
I will always cherish our interactions. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti." A condolence message also came from Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.
"I am saddened by the demise of Sharad Yadav, a senior leader of the socialist stream of the country, former JDU president. Serving the country as a former Union Minister and an outstanding Parliamentarian for decades, he strengthened the politics of equality.
My deepest condolences to his family and supporters," Mallikarjun Kharge tweeted in Hindi. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar too expressed condolences over the demise of socialist leader and former Union Minister Sharad Yadav.
"Saddened by the demise of former Union Minister Sharad Yadav. I had a very deep relationship with Sharad Yadav ji. I am shocked and saddened by the news of his demise. He was a strong socialist leader. His demise has caused an irreparable loss in the social and political field.
May his soul rest in peace," tweeted the Bihar Chief Minister. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati also condoled the demise of Sharad Yadav.
"The news of the demise of Sharad Yadav, a prominent face in the country's politics, who was a member of both houses of Parliament and a former minister for a long time, is very sad.
My deepest condolences to his family and all his loved ones. May nature gives them all the strength to bear this sorrow," tweeted Mayawati. Sharad Yadav was born on July 1, 1947, in Babai Village in Madhya Pradesh's Hoshangabad.
A socialist leader who remained a prominent figure for a large part of his political life, especially in the peak era of coalitions, Sharad Yadav forged several alliances and turns of the journey saw friends turning into foes and then again returning back to forge partnerships.
In his political life spanning nearly five decades, Sharad Yadav served as a Union Minister, convenor of the National Democratic Alliance and the president of Janata Dal-United.He was a prominent leader from the socialist block in parallel with other socialist leaders like the late Mulayam Singh Yadav and George Fernandes.
Sharad Yadav's political career rose during the anti-Congress movement in the 70s.The year was 1974, it was his Lok Sabha by-poll win from Madhya Pradesh's Jabalpur as the opposition candidate against the Congress which boosted its political fight against the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
After Emergency, he won again in 1977 and marked himself counted among several leaders to have come out of the anti-Emergency movement. In 1979 Yadav became the national general secretary of the Lok Dal. Eight years later, in 1987, he was involved in the events that led to the founding of the Janata Dal (JD) in 1988, under the leadership of V.P. Singh. When Singh became prime minister of a short-lived coalition government (1989-90), Yadav was inducted into the cabinet as head of the Textiles and Food Processing Industries Ministry.
Sharad Yadav served as a minister in the VP Singh government in 1989, but his highpoint came after a decade in the late 1990s, when he was in the fray against former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in Madhepura, a parliamentary seat dominated by voters from the Yadav caste, and drubbed the latter which earned him a ministerial berth in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
In 1997 Yadav became president of the Janata Dal. However, in 1999 a spilt happened in the party when he chose to make the Janata Dal a component of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government. A faction led by H.D. Deve Gowda strongly opposed that move and left the Janata Dal to form a new party that became known as Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S).
Yadav remained the head of his own faction, which took the name Janata Dal-United (JD-U). He served in the NDA cabinet as the minister of civil aviation, labour, and consumer affairs, food, and public distribution. The JD(U) was reconstituted as a new party in 2003 after smaller parties merged with it.In 2006, Yadav was elected party president.
He was again elected to the Lok Sabha from Madhepura in 2009. But after the JD(U)'s defeat in the 2014 general elections, Sharad Yadav's relations with Nitish Kumar saw a change.
In the Bihar assembly elections of 2017, when the JD(U) under Nitish Kumar realigned with the BJP (the two parties had been partners in the 2004 and 2009 general elections), Sharad Yadav refused to follow. Yadav who had launched his own party Loktantrik Janata Dal, merged with Lalu Yadav's outfit RJD in March 2020 which he said was the "first step towards a united opposition".