Mulayam Singh Yadav, the founder of the Samajwadi Party, served as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh thrice – from 1989 to 1991, from 1993 to 1995, and from 2003 to 2007.
He served as the Union defence minister under the United Front government from 1996 to 1998 after he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1996. Currently, he is a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha from the Azamgarh constituency.
In 1967, he won the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections for the first time. Yadav has been elected to the Assembly eight times since then.
Since Akhilesh Yadav became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2012, the Yadav family has been divided into two feuding groups. One of the groups, led by Akhilesh, enjoys the support of his father's cousin and SP National General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav. The rival group was led by Mulayam Singh and supported by his brother and state chief of the party, Shivpal Yadav.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is not only a veteran politician but also a man with experience of coalition governments. He was mentored by the stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and Raj Narain. His rise to power in politics started when he became the defence minister of India in 1996 in the United Front government. His son, Akhilesh Yadav, became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2012 when Mulayam Singh choose to step back. However, during the run-up to the 2017 state elections, his feud with Akhilesh turned ugly. Despite Samajwadi Party losing the state elections and Mulayam handing over the baton to Akhilesh, he still remains a leader who can balance SP’s alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, should it gain a substantial ground in UP.