Will Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan jump ship? That’s the question the political grapevine in UP is abuzz with after a Congress leader put up posters of the jailed leader ‘welcoming’ him to join the party fold.
With an eye on wooing Muslims, Congress leader Irshad Ulla has put up these posters in Prayagraj ‘offering and welcoming’ Azam Khan to join the party. Ulla has also released a poster on social media.
The poster carries the photographs of several leaders including AICC general secretary and UP in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Acharya Pramod Krishnam. Interestingly, Acharya Pramod had met Azam Khan in Sitapur Jail recently. Others whose pictures are included in the poster are Congress leader Irshad Ulla himself and senior Congress leader Baba Abhay Awasthi.
Reacting on the issue, UP Congress Spokesperson, Anshu Awasthi said, “Such posters can be a personal view and feelings of any Congress worker. However it is a fact that Azam Khan is a senior leader not just in Samajwadi Party but also in the state. Under his tenure a successful Kumbh was organised in Prayagraj, which was even lauded by UNESCO. It is unfortunate that BJP is doing atrocities on such a leader and even more unfortunate that Samajwadi Party has failed to raise voice for him. As far as induction in Congress is concerned, this decision has to be taken by Azam Khan and Congress leadership.”
Since the formation of the BJP government in UP in 2017, trouble started for SP leader Mohammad Azam Khan. A total of 87 cases were filed against him and he was sent to jail about 2.5 years ago. These days, Azam Khan is lodged in Sitapur Jail. The leader has got bail in 86 cases and a hearing in the Allahabad High Court in a case related to property was also completed on May 5, but the court has reserved the decision, which is expected next week.
Khan has been meeting Akhilesh Yadav’s disgruntled uncle and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party – Lohia (PSPL) chief Shivpal Yadav in Sitapur jail, and Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam. He had reportedly refused to meet a delegation of SP MLAs who had come to the jail to meet him.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav has been repeatedly saying he and his party stand firmly with Khan and are making efforts for his release.
However, after meeting Khan in the jail, Shivpal Yadav had said, “The Samajwadi Party has done nothing for a senior leader like him. Ideally, the SP chief should have sat on a ‘dharna’ in the Lok Sabha along with Neta ji (Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh’s father and Shivpal’s brother) and other opposition parties. PM Modi respects Neta ji and he would have definitely taken cognisance of the issue.”
Earlier, the media in charge and close aide of Khan, Fasahat Ali Shanu, had said, “Azam Khan has been in jail for the last two and a half years but the Samajwadi Party has done nothing for his release, didn’t even protest in one district. What would be more absurd than this that Akhilesh Yadav met Azam Khan in jail only once?”