Rampur’s storm in a teacup moment

Lucknow: Azam Khan may be in jail, but his presence dominates the Samajwadi Party so much that it has not been able to even decide the candidate for Rampur without his consent.

While senior SP leader Shivpal Yadav went to Sitapur jail to meet Khan, state party president Naresh Uttam reached Rampur on Wednesday morning. Earlier, SP President Akhilesh Yadav had met him. A chartered plane was sent to bring Maulana Mohibullah Nadvi from Delhi to file his nomination.

This is not what Khan wanted. He had requested SP President Akhilesh Yadav to contest from Rampur in view of the ‘special situation’ of the constituency. Imam Nadvi in a mosque in Delhi is originally from Rampur. He has also filed his nomination. As for the party’s choice, it sends a message to Khan, who has long been the ‘Muslim face’ of the party.

Khan’s choice, if not Yadav, was Azim Raza. Azam Khan’s close aide Asim Raja has also filed nomination from Rampur. An appeal was also issued in Raza’s favor to ‘make matters easier’ for Khan, who is jailed along with his wife and son in a forgery case.

Some of Khan’s supporters also said that they would boycott the Rampur elections if their choice was not respected. On Tuesday evening, Rampur SP district president Ajay Sagar said in a press conference that if Yadav is not the party’s candidate, the unit will stay away from the elections. Later, a letter in the name of Azam Khan began circulating, calling on the party to give Rampur the same importance that was given to Etawah, Kannauj, Mainpuri and Azamgarh. In the said letter, boycott of Khan’s election was also announced if the condition (of Yadav’s candidature) was not fulfilled.

“The situation will become clear soon,” Raza said after receiving the papers. At the time of filing this report, he had not submitted his nomination while Nadvi had started the process. If Khan continues to support Raza, he may contest as an independent candidate, which could create problems for the SP. Khan has been MLA from Rampur 10 times from different parties. Voting will be held in the first phase in Rampur on April 19.


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