How Azam Khan is turning tables in UP’s Rampur

Rampur (UP): With exactly a week left for campaigning in Rampur, which goes to polls in the first phase of general elections, senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mohd Azam Khan has started turning the tables in this constituency.

Azam Khan is in jail for multiple cases and for the first time, Rampur will not have his presence— either as a voter, or as a contestant or as a campaigner.

But Rampur knows that you can hate Azam Khan or love him, but you cannot ignore him. This constituency which has 50.5 per cent Muslim population is set to witness a keenly contested election.

SP, for the first time, has dared to choose a candidate who is not being supported by Azam Khan. The SP candidate is Maulana Mohibullah Nadvi, the Imam of the Parliament Street Mosque in Delhi.

Azam Khan was keen on his associate Asim Raza contesting the seat but SP President Akhilesh Yadav went ahead and announced the candidature of Nadvi.

Nadvi and Asim Raza filed their nomination papers on the same day but the papers of Asim Raza were cancelled during scrutiny and Nadvi continues to be the official SP candidate.

BJP has named the sitting MP Ghanshyam Lodhi in the election while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has nominated Zeeshan Khan as its candidate.

Upset at the developments in his own party, Azam Khan is now set to play an important role in elections, albeit, from behind bars.

The Samajwadi cadres in Rampur have withdrawn themselves from the election campaign of Maulana Mohibullah Nadvi who, in any case, is being looked up as an outsider.

If sources are to be believed, Azam Khan has decided to extend his tacit support to BSP’s Zeeshan Khan and his supporters in Rampur are becoming increasingly vocal about their support to Zeeshan Khan.

A local SP leader Virendra Goyal said: “Nadvi has not even found time to visit the party office here. He is also soft towards those forces that targeted Azam Khan and sent him and his family to jail. How can we support such a person?”

Nadvi who faces a tough challenge from his own party and also BJP and BSP, said: “SP leaders will back me and I am hopeful of securing Azam Khan’s support too.”

Azam Khan supporters, meanwhile, are unrelenting and are supporting the BSP candidate.

The outcome of the election will now depend on the number of votes that Azam Khan manages to transfer to BSP.

For BJP, the situation is advantageous with Muslim votes being divided between SP and BSP.

“BJP has brought the focus back on the neglected poor among the community that had previously remained sidelined. We will repeat our victory in Rampur because the era of Azam Khan is over,” said Javed Malik, BJP’s western UP minority wing chief.

IANS

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