July 10, 2016 happens to be the centenary year of AK Degree College, earlier known as Aheer College, which was established by the Yadav zamindars of Shikohabad on this day in 2016.
So if you thought that Yadavs were only about grazing buffaloes, you need to change your perception of this politically influential caste.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav visited the college on Sunday but for some reason he only promised to get university status for the college where Mulayam Singh Yadav was once a student and distributed tricycles.
Mulayam, who originally belonged to Shikohabad’s Itauli village, is said to have studied here.
After Shikohabad three more Aheer colleges were opened in Rewari (Haryana), Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Machhlipatnam (Andhra Pradesh).
This was proof that the Yadavs were also aware of the importance of education and were ready to spread it across the country.
The fact that Aheer College was opened in Madurai and Machhlipatnam proved that Yadavs were present down South in sizeable numbers.
Ashok Yadav, a former minister in UP government whose grand-uncle had started the college along with 23 others, said that Yadav presence in Tamil Nadu, where they used different surnames, was the maximum.
If true, that demolishes another myth of Yadavs being a phenomenon restricted to North India.
The college at Shikohabad was started by Chaudhary Shyam Singh Yadav, the zamindar of Uraavar estate who donated Rs 700 of his lagaan (revenue) to the college. Initially, only boys were allowed admission in the college.
Chaudhary Gajraj Singh Yadav of Rupdhani riyasat, his son Chaudhary Kripal Singh Yadav, Cahudhary Maharaj Singh Yadav of Bharol in Mainpuri, Chaudhary Pratap Singh Yadav of Ganga-Jamuni riyasat and 19 other zamindars gave the revenue from their land for the maintenance of the college.
Such was the presence of Yadavs in the country that when the All-India Yadav Mahasabha held its first congregation in Shikohabad in 1912, its membership was 29 lakh. Shikohabad was then recognized as the “Yadav capital”.
A few decades ago when the government ordered that colleges can’t be named after castes, Aheer College was rechristened AK College. It now has Aheer and Kshatriya hidden in the abbreviated name.
But Akhilesh Yadav’s low key visit to AK College had a lot to do with the political dynamic of Shikohabad, known as the political turf of Ashok Yadav.
Mulayam Singh Yadav had a tough time in an election when he managed to defeat Ashok Yadav by 4000 votes. This was the beginning of a political rivalry which continues till today.
In 1998, the BJP decided to field Ashok Yadav against Mulayam from Mainpuri despite the former’s protestations that state BJP leaders Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh were thick with Mulayam.
Mulayam then decided against contesting from Mainpuri and chose Budaun instead. The reason was that Mulayam’s Kamariya gotra accounted for only 16 per cent of Yadavs in Mainpuri while Ashok Yadav’s Ghosi gotra constituted the remaining 84 per cent of the total Yadav votes.
“Because of this gotra balance tilted against him, Mulayam moved out of Mainpuri and fielded Balram Singh Yadav instead. But his friends in the BJP—Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh—ensured that I did not win,” said Ashok Yadav.
It is this political background, and the contribution of Ashok Yadav’s kin in the establishment of the college, which possibly explains why Akhilesh refrained from making any big announcement on the momentous occasion. The other reason could be an undercurrent of animosity between the Ghosi and Kamariya gotras.
Ashok Yadav described his visit as disappointing because the chief minister made no mention of the college completing 100 years. Nor did he utter a word in the memory of its founders. “His promise of making it a university is hollow as that comes under Centre’s domain,” Ashok Yadav said.
The former minister added that although the chief minister had to make 26 announcements, he did not make even one. “He came all the way only to distribute tricycles,” Ashok Yadav said.
A local MLA is learnt to have requested Akhilesh on Sunday that the Saifai family should look after the college. But Ashok Yadav firmly stated that he would not allow any member of Mulayam’s family to take over the AK College.