Irfan Solanki, the man in the middle of the raging controversy — strike of junior doctors that has crippled medical services in Uttar Pradesh — is the lone Muslim MLA in Kanpur district who inherited his political legacy from his father Haji Mushtaq Solanki — a two-time Samajwadi Party MLA. Mushtaq Solanki had joined SP in 1993, a year after Mulayam Singh Yadav formed the party. In 1996, Mushtaq was elected MLA from Aryanagar in Kanpur. He repeated the feat in 2002, but could not complete the term due to his untimely death in 2006. SP gave the ticket to Irfan, who was then only 26 years and six months old, from his father’s seat in 2007.
Irfan won and became the youngest MLA in the 15th Assembly. In 2012, Irfan contested from Sisamau and won. Being the lone Muslim MLA in Kanpur, Irfan, popular as Haji Irfan, has considerable following in the community.
Irfan claims “not a single case has been lodged against me in the past except once”. In 2011, he had stormed into the office of the then Kanpur District Magistrate (DM) Ritu Maheshwari protesting against alleged inflated bills of local weavers. A case was registered and he was arrested. “They had taken me into custody and later released me from the police lines,” Irfan claimed.
Active on Facebook, Irfan’s posts were followed by media when he, as a part of delegation under senior minister Azam Khan, had recently gone on tour of five foreign countries.
Irfan is hardly seen participating in debates in the state assembly as he keeps mostly with other young MLAs and is a regular in the House canteen. Besides politics, Irfan also inherited the tannery business from his father in Kanpur. A commerce graduate from Mumbai University, Irfan has three daughters and a son.