That all’s still not well in the Samajwadi Party became all the more evident Saturday when the mega event called to celebrate the silver jubilee of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh had no signs of founding member and senior Cabinet minister Azam Khan. Party said he is currently abroad on pilgrimage. This is not the first time in the last few days, ever since the feud in the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan has broken out, that Azam has remained conspicuous by his absence.
Azam, the most prominent Muslim face of SP, had skipped the meeting of all the party office-bearers called by Mulayam in Lucknow on October 24. He had also skipped the launch of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s “Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra” from state capital on November 3. While Basic Education Minister Ahmed Hasan had made a speech during the launch of the yatra, party’s Maharashtra president Abu Asim Azmi was among the speakers at Saturday’s event.
In a few posters put up to publicise the party’s silver jubilee celebration at Janeshwar Mishra Park, Azam was described as an “eminent guest” along with Mulayam, Akhilesh and party state president Shivpal Yadav.
SP spokesperson Deepak Mishra said Azam is abroad and has gone on umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca). An aide of Azam also said the minister left the country on Wednesday and the date of his return was not known yet.
Sources in the party said Azam was not happy with reinduction of Amar Singh into SP. For long, Azam has been involved in a rivalry with Singh, now SP general secretary and Rajya Sabha member. Singh was also not present at any of the three programmes.
On October 25, a day after Mulayam had called the party office bearers’ meeting, Azam had issued a statement saying Muslims were “most worried because of the political happenings in the state and the country” and the community “sees its future as dark”.
In the remarks which were seen as critical of the SP, he had said that it was “sad that all have considered Muslim votes as their property without doing anything for the community”. He had added that Muslims are “looking intently at the issues as well as the party or personality with strong political hold”. Azam had also said that the Muslims want to remain with secular Hindus but they do not want to “fight a losing battle”, nor they want to ally with “unfaithful political power”.
His statement had come amid BSP chief Mayawati’s efforts to woo the community. Mayawati had recently asked Muslims not to waste their votes on faction ridden SP.