With the Assembly elections shifting towards the western region of the state,the question doing the rounds in the Samajwadi Party camp is: Will the two As click for the party?
The western region,bordering Uttarakhand,Haryana and Delhi,has remained the weakest link for the SP. Though the blue brigade of the BSP made inroads in the region in 2007,the SP has so far failed to gain a commanding position in the region.
After encouraging reports of its prospects in the first five phases,the SP will face the litmus test in the 128 constituencies going to poll in the last two phases. In 2007,SP had won only 20 of them.
Muslims and Jats form a considerable portion of the population. Moradabad has the highest concentration of Muslims,followed by Rampur,Bijnaur,Badaun,Muzaffarnagar,Saharanpur,Bareilly where Muslims can tilt the scales. Jats,too,are present in these areas.
The SP remained a third force,behind the BSP and the BJP,because the Muslims opted for tactical voting in the past. Muslims may be the SPs mainstay in other parts of the state,but in western UP they know that with Yadavs in negligible numbers,they have to vote for some other party to counter the BJP. Therefore,they tended to side with BSP,Congress and even RLD.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav,contesting perhaps the most crucial election of his political career,has once again rested the onus of breaking the jinx in western region on his aide Azam Khan for Muslim votes and recent entrant Anuradha Choudhary for the Jat votes.
He gave Azam Khan almost a free hand in the selection of Muslim candidates and senior leaders who did not agree with him were shown the door. The ouster of former union minister Rasheed Masood shows the kind of clout Azam Khan holds. There are other examples.
The national president of Mulayam Singh Youth Brigade Naeemul Hasan was given ticket from Noorpur in Bijnaur but replaced by Qutubuddin Ansari. In Rampur,MLA Afroz Ali Khan,who had joined the SP when Azam was expelled,was shown the door when Azam rejoined for his second innings. Azam Khans adversaries claim that SP will face the brunt in elections.
Azam never wants that any other Muslim should flourish in the SP. He always opposed Muslim leaders in the area,I am not an exception. Election results will tell the real status of Azam Khan, said Masood,now in the Congress.
Azam Khan,on the other hand,claimed that the SP will romp home. I am here for the past 40 years. I dont like sycophancy and there is no place for such leaders. Ticket distribution is the sole prerogative of top leadership of the party and I have no say, said Azam,sounding modest.
Then there is Anuradha Choudhary who recently joined the party,ending her 16-year-long association with Ajit Singh. Mulayam Singh promptly appointed her the partys national general secretary and assigned the status of star campaigner. On Tuesday,she was present at the election meeting of Akhilesh Yadav at Mathura. Perhaps,it was the first function where she campaigned against her former mentors son Jayant Choudhary who is contesting from Mant in Mathura.
Well,I am not against anybody. I do not specifically name any person. I am with Mulayam Singh,so I am campaigning for the party, said Anuradha. When asked if she will be able to bring Jats to the SP fold,Anuradha replied: It is not the question of a community. Only results will tell that how effective I had been in the elections. There is a voice for change and SP has appeared as an alternative, she said.