Hoping to woo the Muslim community, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav tried to strike an emotional chord at a rally in Saraimeer Saturday.
“Aapke wajah se yeh jokhim liya hai Azamgarh se ladne ka (It is for you that I have taken the risk of contesting from Azamgarh),” he said.
Though he made no mention of the Muslim youths arrested from Sanjarpur, Azamgarh, barely 8 km from the venue, Mulayam reminded the crowd about the Congress’s failure to implement the Sachar Committee recommendations. “I have come to contest elections on your support.
I have taken the risk. There was no need to contest polls as I am already winning from Mainpuri,” he said, adding that the PM had failed to implement the recommendations despite a personal request from him.
“If SP comes to power, Sachar Committee recommendations will be implemented,” he said. “Muslims need to be given special opportunities, which means reservation. We will take all steps for the development of Muslims.”
At another election meeting in Jahanaganj, Mulayam appealed to people to make his victory margin more than Narendra Modi’s in Varanasi.
In the past two days, the SP has thrown its weight behind nearly three lakh Muslim voters in Azamgarh. On the last day of campaigning, Mulayam addressed four election meetings in Muslim pockets. Mafia don-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed visited the area with a large cavalcade urging Muslims to support Mulayam. “If Mulayam wins from here, many of you can move around in such vehicles,” Atiq told a group of youths looking at his SUVs. Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav, cousin Ramgopal Yadav and nephew Dharmendra Yadav have also been camping in the constituency.
The issue of local youths being arrested in terror cases and the Muzaffarnagar riots do not seem to have had much impact in Azamgarh. “We are concerned but we understand Mulayam cannot free them as the case is in court. But Mulayam is the only person who addresses our issues,” Maulvi Istikhar, a local hakeem who runs a clinic in Saraimeer, said. In the case of Muzaffarnagar, locals mention the compensation provided to Muslims by Mulayam. Local workers of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind are also working for Mulayam. “The fight is with communal forces and we are supporting Mulayam,” Maulvi Zafar, one such worker, said.