Nothing could stop him once, no principles or scruples, but now the lion of Uttar Pradesh is into his twilight years, giving way to son Akhilesh

I had not bargained for the aftermath of that phone call I made on a late evening in March 1994. It was as part of my newspaper assignment to then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. “Why do you wish to change the official language policy of the state government replacing Sanskrit with Urdu”, I asked, as an intrepid reporter.

Mulayam’s reply stumped me: “Don’t ask me. Go ask the BJP leaders. No, no, it would be better if you ask the RSS leaders about me. The best course would be to go to Nagpur, train at the RSS headquarters and then write.”

That snapped our ties, which were non-existent anyway. For four years, he didn’t speak to me. Even when I asked questions at press conferences, he would look the other way. This continued for four years. In the meantime, he got elected to Lok Sabha, became Union Defence Minister and reached tantalisingly close to becoming Prime Minister of India.



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