Lucknow: When Akhilesh Yadav was Saturday chosen to be the next Uttar Pradesh chief minister, few knew that the formative steps of this 38-years-old political career were guided by a Communist.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, shedding light on this little known fact, told IANS that when Akhilesh was elected in a by-election from Kannauj, a seat vacated by his father, it was then Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee who saw "the spark in Akhilesh".
The former CPI-M leader had suggested that Akhilesh be "allowed to be on his own".
Mulayam seemingly took the advice seriously and allowed `Tipu`, as Akhilesh Yadav is fondly called in the family, to have a free run in scripting his political career.
Today, the man born July 1, 1973 is set to be the youngest chief minister of India`s most politically crucial state.
Following a near rout in the 2007 assembly polls, when Mayawati romped back with a 203-member majority, Mulayam Singh handed over the party reigns to his son Akhilesh in 2009. The environmental engineer from Sydney University was appointed the state president of SP.
Until then, Akhilesh was content being in the backseat and enjoying life like any other young man. Movies and football were his favourite pasttimes and he loved riding on a specially made bicycle to be fit.
By 2010, political acumen began to set in and Akhilesh Yadav started asserting himself in party matters and began infusing young blood into the party structure.
With his own young staff advising him on day to day issues, Akhilesh Yadav "churned the party mindset" and began breaking the traditional style of party functioning. Soon Blackberrys and smart phones rolled into the party office.
He would move around the state, an i-Pad in tow, with an exhaustive database of the state and the assembly constituencies being flipped over and deliberated upon.
A passout of Dholpur Military School, Rajasthan, Akhilesh was soon on his own and was networking with ground level workers of the party and making a serious effort to woo the young voter.
His political career hit a trough when Dimple, his wife of 10 years, was made the party candidate for the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat. She lost to one time party leader and now Congress candidate Raj Babbar.
It was then that the party decided to get rid of close Mulayam Singh aide Amar Singh and the Yadav clan, led by Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav, decided to throw in their towel.
The demand was simple - back to basics, the family and expulsion of Amar Singh. Akhilesh joined the chorus to "ease Amar Uncle" out, and started to drive the political fortunes of his party in the state.
Mulayam Singh, by now shadowed by ailments, began to guide Akhilesh from the sidelines of his role in national politics.
Akhilesh`s assertion on probity in public life and safe distancing from known dons, hitherto the party favourites, raised many an eyebrow. But the Yadav chieftain allowed him to work in his own way.
In 2011, when the polls were announced for the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh took charge and picked the party candidates.
With a cut here and there, it was largely his choice, party insiders say. By the time campaigning ended in the seven-phased polls, Akhilesh had travelled more than 300 constituencies in a specially re-modelled bus, the Kranti Rath.
He scripted a historic win for the SP, which bagged 224 seats in the 403-member assembly.
Akhilesh is set to wear the Uttar Pradesh crown March 15 - a decision that triggered celebrations at the 19, Vikramaditya Marg office of the Samajwadi Party (SP) here Saturday.
In doing so, however, the doting father may have disappointed his three kids Aditi, Tina and Arjun a wee bit - because all this while the youngest of the Yadav clan were rooting for their `dadu` or granddad Mulayam Singh as chief minister.