The Samajwadi Party’s decision to replace its Baghpat district president — a Muslim — with a Yadav has sparked resentment among members belonging to the Muslim community.
For past three days, they have been taking out protest march and have torched effigies of local party leaders. This reaction is deeply worrying SP leadership which generates a substantial support from the community in the region on account of it being densely populated by them (around 4 lakh), second only to Jats (around 4.5 lakh). The Yadavs number only around 35,000 to 40,000 in the area.
“They (the Yadavs) did not even vote for the party whereas most from this community did. Still, if the party is favouring a Yadav, then (SP supremo) Mulayam Singh Yadav will see the result in the next assembly election,” said Rajuddin, chairman of Baghpat municipal board and district president whose replacement barely 13 days after the appointment is now at the heart of the resentment brewing in the party.
“I am a two-term chairman of the municipal board in Baghpat. The message has not gone down well and protests are being staged. One Sahib Singh, a minister, is behind this musical chair game as he is more interested in his fixing,” Rajuddin alleged.
The SP candidate, Ghulam Mohammad, polled over 2 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha election — party’s best-ever record in Baghpat — although he failed to win from the seat but finished second.
“We have decided to reach Mulayam’s residence in New Delhi tomorrow (Thursday),” added Rajuddin. Interestingly, even Omkar Singh Yadav, the current district president whom the party apparently chose over Rajuddin, admitted that Muslims, who are “in good numbers”, are “angry over my appointment”.
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Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, also SP state president, had dissolved all the district unit of his party after the Lok Sabha defeat. Later, while reconstituting the Baghpat unit, he appointed Rajuddin as the president on June 28.
The SP’s losing candidate had, in a meeting with Mulayam after the election results, suggested that Muslims be “adjusted” in Baghpat “to diminish the clout of Kokab Hamid”, a former minister and RLD leader. Omkar, however, is of the view that Rajuddin was “a new entrant” and has a “criminal background”.
“He was removed because he had joined the party just before polls. My younger brother, Sanjeev Yadav, has also served as district unit chief and now I have been given the responsibility,” he said. He, however, played down the protests and claimed that “Rajuddin is with me”. “Muslim workers felt bad due to his removal. They are more angry with Sahib Singh and therefore torched his effigy,” Omkar claimed.