Mulayam’s younger son prefers body-building to body politic

Sections of the Samajwadi Party may be clamouring that he contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Azamgarh, but Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger son Prateek Yadav is not interested as his priorities are different — such as spending hours in the gym and indulging in his passion of body-building.

The younger brother of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, 25-year-old Prateek studied management in Leeds and is a budding real estate developer. By his own admission, he is obsessed with physical fitness and exercises for two hours in the morning and an hour in the evening.

He will read any literature on fitness that he can lay his hands on. The websites he visits are about body building. And even the talk with Akhilesh revolves around fitness, he says.

"Politics is very difficult. It takes away your personal life. I cannot even imagine skipping my exercise schedule only to address a public meeting, I have my own priorities," Prateek told The Sunday Express when asked if he would give in to the pressure and contest the polls.

SP workers from Azamgarh have held demonstrations at the party headquarters twice in one month now demanding that he be named the candidate from their district. There is also speculation that he may actually choose Farrukhabad. But Prateek does not approve of the campaign.

"It should not have been done. Do I need a demonstration for getting the ticket?" he asked. It's a candid admission from someone whose family is steeped in politics.

First, there is father Mulayam Singh and brother Akhilesh. Akhilesh's wife Dimple is an MP. Uncle Shivpal Yadav is PWD Minister. Another uncle Ramgopal is also an MP and SP spokesman. Ramgopal's son Akshay has been named party candidate for Ferozabad. So isn't politics an obvious choice for Prateek?

"People tell me such things. Some even say that I cannot escape it and it is inevitable. But I have no plans to step into politics, neither today nor tomorrow," Prateek said. "Already, so many people from my family are in politics. (Since) I am from this family, people think it is the easiest way to get things done. Some approach me for favours and tell me that the profit will be in crores. But I turn them down. I do not make any sifarish (recommendation)," he said.

Asked how he views the performance of Akhilesh's government, he said: "You cannot judge the government by sitting here (in the family bungalow). Here, everything is available. People living in other areas will tell you better. For some the government is better and for others it may be bad, but for me everything is good in Akhilesh-bhaiyya's raj."

Prateek said he inherited his obsession for fitness from his father who was a wrestler in his youth. In fact, Mulayam advised him to start exercising when his weight rose to 103 kg in school. Now, nine years later, he is 67 kg and in excellent shape. The transformation had even been acclaimed by the web site, Prateek said.

Prateek is also an animal lover and invariably carries biscuit packets in his car to feed strays. If he sees an animal in distress, he stops his car and makes arrangements to have it sent to a shelter. He is involved in running Animal Ashram, an animal care centre in Gomti Nagar. He visits the centre regularly on Sundays with wife Aparna and is an active member of an animal lovers group.

"I am managing land holdings of my family. These were bought earlier and now with land prices skyrocketing, I am constructing buildings and giving them on rent. Even Netaji (Mulayam) checks rent rates from me," Prateek said.

Despite his background, he said, it was not easy getting into business. "In fact, it was the opposite. I had to wait for nearly two months for my map to be cleared by the Lucknow Development Authority during the BSP regime. People think that I have money, but I had to take a Rs 1.5-crore loan from a bank to start my business," he said. "Presently, I am constructing a building in Lucknow. I just want my business to settle down and make a mark there."

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