Growing Muslim anger against SP may impact LS bypolls in UP (IANS special)
Lucknow, April 19 (IANS) The growing Muslim anger against Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav may now directly impact the outcome of the Lok Sabha by-elections that are due in Rampur and Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh following the resignations of Akhilesh Yadav and Mohd Azam Khan.
The Samajwadi Party may not find it easy to retain the two seats that have been Samajwadi strongholds because both the constituencies have a sizeable Muslim presence.
Ever since Azam Khan's media in-charge Fasahat Khan Shanu said earlier this month, "Chief minister Yogi Adityanath was right when he said that Akhilesh does not want Azam Khan to be out of jail," trouble has been brewing in the SP.
According to sources, Azam Khan has been upset over the fact that Akhilesh did not visit him in Sitapur jail-except once -- where he is lodged since February 2020.
Fasahat said, "On the indication of Azam Khan, the Muslims not only in Rampur, but also in several districts voted for the SP. But the SP national president did not take the side of Muslims. Azam Khan is in jail for more than two years, but the SP president only once went to meet him in jail. Not just this, Muslims are not being given importance in the party."
Azam Khan did not contradict Shanu's statement which gave credence to reports of his disenchantment with the SP.
Interestingly, SP MP Shafiqur Rehman Barq had also alleged that the party was not working for Muslims.
Samajwadi Party leader Salman Javed Raeen then tendered his resignation from the party in protest against the alleged apathy of the party leadership towards the Muslim community.
While writing a letter to the party leadership, Raeen flagged the guarded silence by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav by quoting the instances of Azam Khan who, he claimed, was sent to jail along with his family, Kairana MLA Nahid Hasan has also been languishing in jail and Shahzil Islam, SP MLA from Bhojipura in Bareilly district, was booked for hate speech and his petrol pump was demolished.
The SP leader from Sultanpur further added that if a "coward leader could not raise the voice in support of his party men, how could he be expected to raise people's issues".
The SP leader from Rampur, Naveen Sharma, has also quit the party in support of Azam Khan.
A senior Muslim MLA admitted on condition of anonymity that "Muslims within the party are questioning the party president's posture towards his own leaders. If leaders of a particular community are being targeted by the state government, we do expect our leader to stand up for us. His silence is upsetting."
In an interesting turn of events, a senior Muslim cleric, Maulana Shahabuddin Rizvi, associated with the revered shrine of Ala Hazrat in Bareilly, has advised the community to explore other options, even the BJP, to extend support.
He has accused the SP chief of abhorring Muslims and that he failed to unite himself with the minority community.
The cleric charged Akhilesh with pushing the prominent Muslim faces back during the election carrying the whole campaign alone. "There is a huge difference between the SP of Akhilesh and Mulayam Singh Yadav," said the cleric.
To make matters worse, the AIMIM has extended an invitation to Mohd Azam Khan to join the party.
AIMIM spokesman Mohd Farhan has sent a letter to the SP MP, who is in jail, seeking time to meet him. "Each and every worker of AIMIM is with Azam Khan," he said.
The crisis in the Samajwadi Party has deepened further with Shivpal Singh Yadav claiming that he is 'ready to take a decision soon' about his political future.
Sources close to him say that he will soon announce parting of ways with the SP.
The seriousness of the crisis in the SP can be gauged from the fact that SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, two days ago, held meetings in Mainpuri and even visited the homes of senior party leaders to assuage their feelings.
Mulayam and Akhilesh later held a closed-door meeting in Lucknow to take stock of the situation.
A party leader said that Mohd Azam Khan and Shivpal Singh Yadav's anger with the SP leadership could prove 'disastrous' for the party in the coming months.
"We have lost all seats in the council polls and now we face a challenge in the Lok Sabha by-elections. If things are not set right, the party may go to pieces," he said.