UP Congress chief Ajay Rai to meet SP leader Azam Khan in Sitapur Jail

The Congress may be seeking to reach the Muslim population in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, signalling a stance against their perceived exploitation under BJP rule

Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan is currently in jail in Uttar Pradesh, as are his wife and son (photo: National Herald archives)
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan is currently in jail in Uttar Pradesh, as are his wife and son (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Political Bureau

In a significant move aimed at bolstering ties among INDIA (Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance) bloc partners, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai is set to meet Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan at Sitapur jail on Thursday 26 October, National Herald has learned.

The purpose of the meeting is to express solidarity with Azam Khan who has been slapped with "false cases" by the BJP government for "political reasons", said a Congress party source privy to the development.

Azam Khan, his wife Tazeen Fatima, and his son Abdullah Azam were recently convicted by a Rampur court in a fake birth certificate case. Following the conviction, while Azam Khan has been shifted to Sitapur jail, his son was taken to Hardoi district jail.

“The Congress party believes we should fight for everyone facing injustice under BJP rule,” said Anil Yadav, organisation secretary, UP Congress.

Azam Khan, a prominent political figure and one of the founders of the Samajwadi Party, has been entangled in a series of legal troubles which resulted in his disqualification from the UP assembly.

It is important to recall here that Rai also met with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP Danish Ali and expressed the Congress’ unwavering support for him. Ali was subjected to abusive language by BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri during a debate on the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament.

With Lok Sabha elections on the horizon, Rai's meeting with Azam Khan is being seen as an attempt by the Congress to woo Muslims, who form about 19 per cent of the total population of the state.

By taking up Azam Khan’s case, UP observers believe, the Congress is subtly attempting to indicate to minorities that it is willing to raise its voice for all those who feel exploited under BJP, across party lines.

UP Congress minority wing chief Shahnawaz Alam, who met Azam Khan in 2022 in a hospital when the latter was admitted, said the Congress is reaching out to everyone who is facing injustice under BJP rule.

He told NH that a meeting of the party’s minority committee will be held in November, where all the issues faced by Muslim society will be discussed in the presence of senior leaders.

“There is a growing perception that Muslims are being targeted under this regime… We will launch a massive outreach programme after the November meet,” Alam said.

Observers believe that raising the Azam Khan issue could help Congress connect with Muslims in Rampur as well as nearby regions of Sambhal and Moradabad. "Nothing happens without a reason in politics," said a political commentator.

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