SAMAJWADI PARTY Saturday came out in full support of beleaguered Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan whose competence was questioned by Governor Ram Naik in a letter to Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey Friday.
While party workers protested Friday evening by burning Naik’s effigy in Rampur, senior leaders Saturday termed the development as an effort by some communal forces to tarnish the image of its government.
“Earlier, politics was done on the basis of ideology where policies were criticised. But in the recent times, politics is heading towards character assassination. Due to the rising popularity of the SP government, some elements are trying to tarnish its image. They target a minister, which reflects their poor mentality,” SP’s state spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary said.
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Governor Naik had Friday questioned Azam’s abilities as the parliamentary affairs minister while taking strong exception to his comments in the Assembly on March 8 where the latter had pointed fingers at Raj Bhavan for ‘delaying’ the Bill that allows action against mayors. Naik had termed Khan’s use of language as “not in accordance with the dignity, decorum and tradition of the Assembly”.
Countering the Governor, the SP spokesperson called Azam “a competent player of parliamentary politics, an excellent orator known for giving tit-for-tat reply to the Opposition”.
“He is a proponent of secularism and is committed to the leadership of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Everybody knows Azam’s spontaneity and the leader receives praise even from the Opposition. Raising any question on his ability is not justified. Public life is transparent and Azam’s life is an open book,” Chaudhary said.
The SP spokesman pointed out that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has “complete faith” in his minister, who had successfully managed the Mahakumbh in Allahabad, earning praise for himself from all over the world. “Forces that play political games through communalism are behind Azam’s character assassination,” he alleged.
Without naming the Governor, Chaudhary said that after mining minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, who had become a “target of unnecessary statements”, it is now Azam’s turn to face criticism. “Azam is in politics for several decades. His life has been full of struggle since his student days. He has achieved his place in politics through struggle and holds countrywide recognition,” the spokesman said in the minister’s praise.
Meanwhile, the SP workers’ protest against the Governor’s stance attained political overtones when local Congress leader Faisal Khan ‘Lala’, a known adversary of Azam, shot off a letter to DGP Javeed Ahmed, demanding a case against the minister for “instigating” the protest, and against those who participated in it.
“Torching an effigy of anyone who holds a constitutional post is against the law. It was done at the behest of Azam. A case should be registered against him for spoiling the atmosphere in Rampur and tarnishing the Governor’s image,” Lala told The Sunday Express.
Lala, who is the state coordinator of Congress’s minority cell, also claimed to have “informed” the Governor about the incident over phone. “I apprised the Governor of the development and the incident that took place in Rampur. I will send pictures as well as other proofs to Raj Bhavan soon,” he said.
When contacted, Naik termed it as “a routine law and order problem”. “It will be handled by the local police. The Congress leader had called me up and said that he is sending some letter in this regard,” Naik said, adding, “so far, there is no plan to apprise the CM of the incident. Let the police inform him if it requires (his) attention.”
Naik had Friday sparked a row when he wrote to the Speaker questioning whether the SP leader was capable of being the state parliamentary affairs minister.