By Haider Abbas
UP politics is these days into a whirlwind, as the estranged uncle, Shiv Pal Yadav, of Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, is hell bent to send shadows of doubts inside the SP echelons . Shiv Pal Yadav, runs Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party but took to contest on SP ‘cycle’ symbol. Why did not he contest on his own party symbol, from Jaswantnagar, from where he won? It was by no means a noble gesture from Akhilesh Yadav, that he embraced his uncle, on the eve of elections, but which all proved fatal. The otherwise traditional Yadav belt i.e. Etawa, Etah, Mainpuri, Ferozabad, Farrukhabad and Kannauj etc, is from where SP had to cut a sorry figure as out of the 35 seats from this region BJP won 23, while in 2012, SP had won 29 out of them. SP chief did won Karhal but BJP won two of the four from the same Mainpuri district. A flabbergasted SP took a stock of the situation and zeroed that there were many ‘proxy’ candidates, which was all an internal handiwork, is what had led to SP drubbing. Akhilesh Yadav did not invite his uncle in the party’s meeting on March 26. The results came on March 10 with BJP claiming to office again with 274/403 seats.
More than a month has passed, during which Shiv Pal Yadav’s flirtations with BJP have become public amid speculations had been rife that he would be sent to Rajya Sabha on BJP ticket, resign from Jaswantnagar and see his son contest on BJP ticket and thereafter made a minister in UP government. Today he dares Akhilesh Yadav to expel him and Akhilesh Yadav instead seeks to know why is he delaying it? Even the date of Shiv Pal Yadav, formally going into BJP’s lap was declared to be April 19 but that has as yet not happened. Why when all the decks were cleared for him, his entry has been blocked? This is the prime reason, which has caused ‘so much of stir’ in the present polity of UP.
Shiv Pal Yadav had openly voted for BJP in the MLC elections held in April in which BJP won 33/36 seats. But, now Shiv Pal Yadav, as can be estimated from various media reports, has been assigned with a duty to bring the scalps of Azamgarh and Rampur, from where Akhilesh Yadav was an MP and Muhammed Azam Khan had represented Rampur, and both have resigned as both the seats are slated to go for early by-polls.
Shiv Pal Yadav, had in fact wrecked the party in 2016, and SP, which had a run at Vidhan Sabha (2012-17), had every chance to a stake a re-claim in 2017, due to the most maverick political step by BJP PM Narendra Modi i.e. demonetization, but in fact floundered the chance, due to its infighting, and lost UP elections 2017. Muhammed Azam Khan is an Ex. Rajya Sabha MP, Ex. Lok Sabha MP from Rampur, his son Abdullah is a two times MLA, his wife an Ex. MLA and former Rajya Sabha member. He is himself a 10 times MLA from Rampur and has been the founding member of SP.
There is no hiding from the fact that Shiv Pal Yadav did not invite any ire from BJP government, at the Center, since 2014 or in UP since 2017, but instead enjoyed the allocation of a bungalow by BJP Union Home Minister Amit Shah, all the while as Muhammed Azam Khan languished in Sitapur jail, with his wife and son, from February 24, 2020 onwards, and is still in jail, while the other two have been granted bail. His next hearing over his last case is on May 4. All these years he has had the worst nightmare, as a part of political vendetta at the hands of BJP government. Twice he had to be admitted in Lucknow Medanta hospital on account of COVID-19 infection.
The assignment for Shiv Pal Yadav is to bring Azamgarh seat into BJP fold and also see that SP gets defeated from Rampur, so as to make a clear-pathway into BJP. He had in fact been discarded by SP for long, but SP this time was the most incumbent force and Shiv Pal Yadav was then totally isolated, hence, he hit a plan and visited Muhammed Azam Khan, before the polls, in November 2021, and related to media that Khan wanted to ‘fight unitedly’. This acted like a thaw and Akhilesh Yadav re-took him into stride and made him fight on SP symbol. All the ten Azamgarh Assembly seats have gone to SP ( 2022) and Rampur has always been a stronghold of SP.
When I met Muhammed Azam Khan, immediately after to Shiv Pal Yadav visit in November last year, he explained me that Shiv Pal Yadav is after all ‘the blood’ and was very hopeful that SP would win, but did the blood really rise to the occasion? Why would then SP loose in its own Yadav bastion? Therein lies the catch, Muhammed Azam Khan was clearly mistaken and could not construe the real motives of Shiv Pal Yadav. To also state, I am the only one who visited Muhammed Azam Khan, the maximum number of times in jail and also did write around half a dozen articles in a form of ‘Sitapur Jail Diary’ on it. While during his stay at Medanta Hospital, where it was barred to go inside the hospital due to Corona-wave, I was at the hospital, every second-third day, and had always updated his family relatives with his health updates along with that to Akhilesh Yadav. I also did update Akhilesh Yadav from my Sitapur Jail visits and communicated his certain messages inside the jail too.
Today, it is widely being reported that Muhammed Azam Khan is angry and an array of speculations are being debated that he would desert SP, and become a Muslim face of BSP and take the place vacated by Ex. BSP high-profile member Naseem-ud-Din Siddiqui, or join Congress party and see a Congress candidate from Rampur in the upcoming by-elections, or may even flirt a chance to go with RLD Chief Jayant Chaudhry who recently had visited Khan’s family in Rampur or may melt into AIMIM of Asad-ud-Din Owaisi etc. Shiv Pal Yadav has thorn yet again a bait to start to Morcha with Khan once after he is out of jail. Jayant Chaudhry had as an ally of SP along with SBSP of Om Prakash Rajhbar. The coalition got 125 seats of which 111 are of SP.
Shiv Pal Yadav wants to send confusing signals and courted Muhammed Azam Khan again on April 22 inside jail. He lobbed vibes against Akhilesh Yadav to have maltreated Muhammed Azam Khan, and later on April 25, Shiv Pal partner Acharya Pramod Krishnam visited jail and waxed the same eloquence, he later visited Rampur on April 29, and met the family members of Muhammed Azam Khan. The thread is the same, ‘Azam maltreated, and a political change is coming’. A SP delegation led by Ravidas Mehrotra was denied the audience in jail on April 24. Both Shiv Pal and Krishnam are friends and Krishnam despite being in Congress had been riding Shiv Pal rath since 2021.
Acharya Pramod Krishnam in Rampur. Courtesy: Twitter
Is the message from Muhammed Azam Khan clear that he is deserting SP? But, the big question is, where were the duo when Muhammed Azam Khan was fighting ‘life and death’ in his isolation ward at Medanta hospital? If they were ‘so concerned’ they could have visited the hospital at least for once! Wherein, the fact is also that Akhilesh Yadav had roped in Dr. Mishra in a chartered plane to see to the well-being of MA Khan.
As for Muhammed Azam Khan and his rivalries within SP, are all too known inside party circles. In 2003-07 SP government, on the occasion of Ghaziabad Hajj House inauguration Khan was frisked and his mobile phone snatched by a small time Sub-Inspector. Such was the humiliation meted to Khan that the then CM Mulayam Singh Yadav did not inaugurate the function. During the 2012-14, within a month of assuming office, a programme was aired on a mainstream channel as ‘central-hall’, which spewed venom against Khan. Khan was seething with anger and wanted to resign from the government the next morning, until it was doused. Everyone knows who was behind the sponsored show. Who recommended the DM of Rampur, Anjaneya Kumar Singh, which turned out to the most horrendous experience for MA Khan?
There is everybody’s guess as to who was behind all such incidences!
There are many a slips betwixt the cup and the lip. Now OP Rajbhar is claimed to have sought time to visit Sitapur Jail. Will Khan meet him is what is to be seen. One anecdote however, needs to be referred, as when MA Khan was debarred from SP in 2009-10, Congress Party Digvijay Singh relentlessly requested to visit MA Khan’s house in Rampur but MA Khan did not relent. It is primarily this anti-Congress sentiment which had always been the forte of MA Khan, and when after the Babri Masjid HC Lucknow judgement came in 2010, Mulayam Singh stated that Muslims have been cheated. This is what had brought Mulayam Singh and MA Khan together again.
Why would MA Khan go back to SP? Despite Mulayam Singh courting Babri Masjid demolition convict Kalyan Singh or demolition accused Sakshi Maharaj, is for the cardinal fact that Mulayam Singh political line did not change, irrespective of political expediencies. It is here, what matters, as SP has always been unwavering into with its policies vis-à-vis secularism and socialism. Akhilesh Yadav has declared that SP stands behind MA Khan and would always provide with the best available legal aid.
So, until May 4, and the release of MA Khan, the political upheavals are unlikely to subside. What after that is all yet to unfold?
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and a political analyst.