The Importance of being Azam Khan

SP leader Md Azam Khan was released from Sitapur jail. Leader of the PSP(L) Shivpal Singh Yadav was present to receive him, indicating the possibility of a change in the political scenario in UP

Azam Khan
Azam Khan

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

On Friday, Samajwadi Party leader Md Azam Khan was released from Sitapur jail. Leader of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) leader Shivpal Singh Yadav was present at the gates of the Sitapur jail to receive him, indicating the possibility of a change in political scenario in Uttar Pradesh.

When Supreme Court granted bail to Md Azam Khan, his son Md Abdullah Azam Khan, an MLA said in a tweet: God willing, on May 20, 2022, with the first rays of the sun, my father will come out of jail like a new sun, which will wipe out the darkness of atrocities and injustices.

Azam Khan will walk free after almost two years of incarceration. He was booked in 87 cases which ranged from fraud to land grabbing. This period witnessed the gulf which appeared between him and the Samajwadi Party. Khan met a delegation led by Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam but refused to meet a Samajwadi Party delegation led by party MLA Ravidas Mehrotra.

Incidentally, Khan had met Shivpal Singh Yadav inside the jail and later Shivpal accused Akhilesh Yadav of ignoring Azam Khan. He even said that Mulayam Singh Yadav should have taken up the matter of Azam Khan with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Satyamev Jayate (Truth wins). Today was the long-awaited day. Supreme Court granted interim bail to Azam Khan sahib. There is a ray of hope in India’s judicial system,” Shivpal Yadav said.

Khan even got support from BJP MP from Gonda Brij Bhushan Saran Singh who said, "Akhilesh is wrong. I appreciated Shivpal Yadav for meeting Azam Khan. Azam Khan is 10 term MLA of UP assembly and also an MP of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The party should not discard him,” the BJP MP said.

All of a sudden Azam Khan is back in the limelight. The person who used to call shots in Samajwadi Party, whether it was in power or not, was ignored by Akhilesh Yadav when he along with his wife Tazeen Fatima, and Abdullah Azam were arrested on various charges. The Yogi government had slapped 77 charges against Khan which ranged for grabbing government land to misusing his power when he was a minister in the Akhilesh Yadav's government between 2012-2017.

His influence could be gauged from the fact that he was known as ‘King Khan of Rampur’. In 2014 when his buffaloes were stolen, the superintendent of police had led a team on a buffalo hunt. Three policemen — a sub-inspector and two constables from Gunj police station — were punished for dereliction of duty that had led to the theft.

The initial phase of Akhilesh’s tenure was tumultous as people used to say Uttar Pradesh was being ruled by three and a half Chief Ministers. Three were – Mulayam, Shivpal, and Azam, and the half was Akhilesh. This reflected the influence Azam Khan wielded in the Yadav clan.

He earned that respect with sheer hard work as Azam Khan was among the founders of the Samajwadi Party and had built the party brick-by-brick with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav. An orator par excellence he was known as a rabble-rouser who was popular among the Muslims. Still, Azam Khan holds sway in western Uttar Pradesh, particularly in Muslim dominated areas of Rampur, Moradabad, and Bareilly. He was the one who challenged the Nawabs of Rampur who held the political sway in the region. The members of the Nawab family had won the Parliamentary seat eight times.

Therefore, when the word started spreading that Akhilesh neglected Azam Khan, there was an uproar among Muslims. The way SP legislator from Bhojipura in Bareilly Shazil Islam cold-shouldered the party delegation that came to meet him after his patrol pump was demolished on the pretext of grabbing illegal land, reflects that the support in favour of Azam Khan among Muslims is growing.

The reports from different quarters of the state reflect that Muslims are not happy with the way Akhilesh Yadav has treated Azam Khan’s issue. The Muslim leaders, even of the Samajwadi Party, had attacked Akhilesh Yadav for doing nothing to help Azam Khan in his hour of crisis. Fasahat Khan, an aide of Azam Khan had levelled serious charges against the SP chief accusing him of ignoring Muslims. He had gone to the extent of saying that Akhilesh Yadav doesn’t want Azam Khan to be out of jail. Muslims are angry because Akhilesh Yadav has not made Azam Khan the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly. They say that Muslims made Mulayam Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav Chief Ministers but they did not take care of Azam Khan.

Sensing that this anger of Muslims can prove costly for him, Akhilesh Yadav offered an olive branch and said the party is with the jailed leader. In this scenario, the political circles in Uttar Pradesh’s are abuzz with the question- where is Azam Khan is heading to? People close to Azam Khan say that he is ready to chart out a different political path along with Shivpal Singh Yadav. Akhilesh has neglected Azam Khan and the time has come to teach the SP leader a lesson, a close aide of Khan told this reporter. He said the support Azam Khan is getting from different political parties and Muslims is astounding.

In view of this, next few weeks are important as during this time the fate of Azam Khan will be decided. Only then the picture will be clear as to which way Khan sahib will go.

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