A trying time for Akhilesh Yadav

He will have to placate Muslims and other disgruntled groups within his party

Azam Khan with Akhilesh Yadav
Azam Khan with Akhilesh Yadav

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

The revolt by the supporters of Mohammed Azam Khan against Akhilesh Yadav has raised many questions about his leadership. The revolt came in the background of Shivpal Singh Yadav showing his displeasure over the conduct of his `bhatija’. Even Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rehman said that Akhilesh has betrayed Muslims – thus presenting a picture that revolt has started brewing against Akhilesh.

As the barbs are getting sharpened with every passing day, the Yadav Mahasabha in Rampur came out in support of Akhilesh saying that Azam Khan was given “due respect” by Akhilesh. He was even made a top minister when Akhilesh was Chief Minister and the then government has supported all his decisions, said Anil Yadav, a leader of the Mahasabha.

His reference was to the construction of Mohammed Ali Jauhar University in Rampur. The Yogi government claims government land was used to construct a portion of the university.

The Muslims and Yadavs form the bulwark of the Samajwadi Party’s support base. After the party lost the recently held assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, new challenges are arising in front of Akhilesh almost every day. Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, who is the head of the Progressive Samajwadi Party, is unhappy with the behaviour of the SP chief and political grape wine is pregnant with rumours that he might join BJP

Apart from this, Shafiqur Rahman Burq and Azam Khan supporters have unfurled a banner of revolt. Both Burq and Khan are the biggest Muslim faces of SP. This is a history that when Samajwadi Party was formed Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal and Azam Khan were the main pillars. During recent assembly elections, both Shivpal and Azam Khan contested the election. Shivpal contested on SP’s symbol while Azam Khan, despite an MP, contested the polls from jail and won from Rampur.

After the results were out, Azam Khan resigned his Lok Sabha seat under the direction of Akhilesh. Azam Khan’s supporters got the impression that if SP wins he will get the good ministerial post and in case the party fails to form a government, Khan would be made Leader of Opposition. But when Akhilesh Yadav was elected as Leader of the SP Legislature Party all hell broke loose. Muslims started feeling alienated. The first indication of it came when SP MP from Sambhal Shafiqur Rahman Barq said that the SP is not working for the welfare of Muslims.

Two days later Akhilesh was attacked by the Azam camp. Fasahat Ali Shanu, who is considered close to Azam Khan, targeted Akhilesh Yadav. Shanu questioned as why Azam Khan was not made the Leader of the Opposition. He even said that Samajwadi Party won 111 seats from Muslim votes and still Khan was ignored.

Shanu was not off the mark when he spoke about Muslim support for SP as in the majority of the districts Muslims have voted en-mass for the Samajwadi Party. This is reflected the way BSP was reduced to just a one-seat party in the 403 state assembly.

Now, all eyes are on Akhilesh as to what decision he takes next. He has to placate Muslims otherwise it would be a requiem for him in UP politics.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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