From helping in winning her first Lok Sabha elections from Rampur in 2004 to turning bitter rivals in 2009, the history of animosity between Jaya Prada and Azam Khan goes back to a decade, when the actor-politician was an SP MP and Khan an Uttar Pradesh minister.
And now, with both squaring up against each other in Rampur — Khan from SP and Jaya Prada from BJP — a mouth-watering contest is on cards in this minority-dominated constituency in UP.
Thus, it is not a surprise that below-the-belt comments have started flying thick and fast between the two foes, with an FIR being registered recently against Khan for remarks at a rally where he said that Prada “wears khakhi underwear”.
At a public rally with party president Akhilesh Yadav, Khan allegedly commented on Prada’s association with the RSS and said, “What is the difference between you and me? People of Rampur, people of Uttar Pradesh and the people of India. It took you 17 years to understand her true face. But I realised in 17 days… that she wears khakhi underwear,” he said.
Khan had campaigned for Jaya Prada in Rampur after she quit the TDP and helped her win the Lok Sabha seat in 2004 from an SP ticket.
During campaigning for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Prada alleged that Khan was circulating her morphed photos and working his best to ensure her defeat. However, the 56-year-old went on to win for a second time from Rampur, albeit with a lesser margin of 31,000 votes.
However, Azam Khan had the last laugh after SP patriarch Mulayam Yadav expelled Prada from the party along with Amar Singh in 2010 for ‘anti-party’ activities.
Since then, the relationship between the two has only turned sour, with Azam becoming a vocal critic of the actor-turned-politician.
Last year, Prada said that Alauddin Khilji’s character in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat reminded her of Azam Khan. “When I was watching Padmaavat, Khilji’s character reminded me of Azam Khan ji, how he had harassed me during elections when I was contesting,” she had said.
Azam Khan retorted reportedly by saying, “Tell me, if I entertain this ‘naachne gaane wali’, how will I concentrate on politics?”
In February 2019, Prada alleged that Azam Khan had attempted an acid attack on her and also claimed that she received multiple threats from the Samajwadi Party leader.
“Even as a sitting MP from a party, I wasn’t spared. Azam Khan harassed me. He attempted an acid attack on me. I had no certainty if I would be alive the next day. I couldn’t even tell my mother if I would come back alive whenever I left home,” she said.
The war of words between the two candidates is expected to only intensify in the days to come, with polling in Rampur scheduled on April 23.