SAIFAI Samajwadi Party founder and one of the biggest icons of the socialist movement, Mulayam Singh Yadav, was cremated with full state honours in his native village Saifai as a sea of people bid a teary farewell to their beloved leader.
His son, and now party president, Akhilesh Yadav, wearing ‘janeu’ (sacred thread) over his white vest, lit the pyre at 3.45pm amid lakhs of supporters who rent the air with ‘Netaji Amar Rahein’ chants braving the drizzle.
Leaders from across India’s political spectrum gathered at the Saifai Mahotsav pandal to pay their last respects to the leader with whom an era ended in Indian politics.
A truck decked up with flowers and a huge portrait of Mulayam Singh Yadav ferried his mortal remains from his ancestral house in Saifai to the pandal at 10 am. Covering a distance of 500m, the vehicle reached the cremation site in 45 minutes.
Thousands walked in a procession along the vehicle, showering petals and paying tribute to the departed leader. Since early morning, people had started converging on the family house where Yadav’s body draped in the Tricolour lay in a coffin.
The police struggled to control the flow of the crowd as men and women surged forward in droves, trying to catch a glimpse of ‘Netaji’, as he was fondly called.
The SP patriarch, three-time chief minister and India’s former defence minister, was ailing for two years. He breathed his last at a private hospital in Gurugram on October 10 — eight days after he was admitted.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh laid a wreath on the mortal remains on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Telangana chief minister K Chandra Shekhar Rao, Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Mallikarjun Kharge and Kamal Nath were among senior leaders who attended the funeral.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, his daughter Surpiya Sule, Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, deputy CM of Bihar Tejashwi Yadav, deputy CMs of UP Keshav Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak, industrialists Anil Ambani, Subrata Roy Sahara, RLD chief Jayant Chowdhary, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Bollywood actors Abhishek Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan, were among the other dignitaries who paid their tributes to the daparted leader at Saifai Mela ground.
The politicians and celebrities were seen giving words of solace to Akhilesh Yadav.