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ASHU MALIK, the MLC whose alleged assault led to the expulsion of MoS Tej Narain Pandey from the SP Wednesday, had been the centre of attention at Monday’s stormy meeting at party headquarters. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, upset about a reference to Aurangzeb in a report in The Times of India, called Malik to stage saying he was aware that Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh had “got the report published”. Shivpal Yadav then grabbed the mike from Malik, saying the chief minister was lying.
Asked about it, Malik told The Indian Express the CM had wanted him to clarify he had no connection with the report; he added he had never met Amar Singh either. After that, the CM’s security was seen escorting Malik to the CM’s residence at 5 Kalidas Marg where, Malik alleged, minister Pandey “misbehaved” with him. He complained to the police as well as Mulayam. Malik had already caught notice with a Facebook comment indirectly targeting Ram Gopal Yadav for the crisis in the party. “I write that post to express my sentiments. I want to save the party,” he told The Indian Express.
Malik, whose family hails from Ghaziabad, started out as a photographer and later ran a newspaper, Aman Shane. He joined the SP in 2007 and became close to Mulayam by organising programmes for him in Muslim-dominated areas — such as a sammelan in Delhi on November 11, 2011, and interactions with Maulana Arshad Madni, president of Jamiat-e-Hind, in Deoband.
“Malik helped Mulayam win back the confidence of Muslim voters who had drifted away on account of his bonding with Kalyan Singh,” said an SP leader from Ghaziabad. He noted that in the last four years, Malik has emerged a prominent Muslim leader in western UP. After joining the SP in 2007, Malik was directly appointed adviser in the party’s youth welfare department. Removed after the poor showing in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he was reinstated days later. He had to step down in September 2014 after the party chose him for the Legislative Council.
During the current Akhilesh regime, Malik is widely seen as having played a role in the routing of financial help to nearly 5,000 people of western UP — most of them Muslims — from the chief minister’s relief fund. Malik also arranged a meeting with the family of Akhlaq, lynched in Dadri, whose family went on to get 45 lakh from the state government.