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Will Azam Khan's loyalists vote for his alternative in Rampur LS seat?

By Muhammad Mazhar Saleem
April 16, 2024 01:49 IST
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The absence of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan from Rampur politics has left party workers in a dilemma whether to vote for his alternative or keep their allegiance to the stalwart who has dominated the local politics for over five decades.

IMAGE: Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. Photograph: ANI Photo

Khan, who is currently lodged in Sitapur jail, has been replaced by Mohibullah Nadvi, a cleric of a mosque located on Delhi's Parliament Street.


Changing party candidates may be normal for any other Lok Sabha constituency, but in the case of Rampur, it is not at all trivial.

Asim Raja, a close aide of Azam Khan, had also filed his nomination describing himself an SP candidate, despite the party giving ticket to Nadvi. His nomination was rejected during scrutiny.

Azam Khan has undisputedly been the most influential leader in Rampur in the last five decades and has had direct involvement in all activities of the SP in the district all along.

The SP, however, has this time been apparently forced to duke it out without his clout, and a wholehearted support of his followers.

Speaking about the confusion in the local unit, party's district president Ajay Sagar said, "We are deeply saddened that this time neither mantri ji (Azam Khan) nor any member of his family is in the electoral fray. We are missing him a lot."

"Every possible effort will be made to make the candidate sent by the party win," he told PTI.

Rampur Parliamentary seat will go to vote in the first phase on April 19.

Nadvi, throughout his campaign, has called Azam Khan his "bade bhai" (elder brother) and sought people's votes, so that Khan could be freed.

While a hero for many in the area, Khan has been described by the rival BJP as someone who stalled progress and wrought a "rule of injustice."

According to the BJP workers, the party's Ghanshayam Lodhi, who became MP recently in a bypoll, deserves more opportunity to bring development to the place.

Sagar had earlier held a press conference demanding that SP President Akhilesh Yadav contest the election from Rampur and threatened with a boycott if he did not.

Sagar claimed that for the last few years, the district administration has been threatening the Muslim voters to not cast their votes.

When such arbitrariness reigns, only a stalwart like Akhilesh can stop it, he said.

On March 22, Yadav met Azam Khan, who was sentenced to seven years of jail in a fake age certificate case, giving rise to speculations that Khan had requested him to contest election from the Rampur Lok Sabha seat.

Since Khan's wife, former MLA Tazeen Fatima, and his younger son and former MLA Abdullah Azam, are also serving a seven-year jail sentence each in a fake birth certificate case, there is no one to take Khan's legacy forward.

His elder son Adeeb Azam has always kept himself away from politics.

Nadvi's campaign is being conducted away from Khan's house and the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University set up by him. He is running his campaign from his office in Topkhana Road area.

Azam Khan has been MLA from Rampur Sadar seat 10 times and was elected an MP from Rampur Lok Sabha seat once, in 2019. He reached the Assembly for the first time in June 1980 from Rampur on Janata Party (Secular) ticket.

Since then, he had such a hold on the politics of Rampur that no one could challenge him for five decades.

His supremacy was undermined, however, first in 2022, when the Rampur parliamentary seat fell vacant, after he had to resign as a result of being elected an MLA from Rampur Sadar assembly seat.

Asim Raja, a favourite of Khan, fought from the Lok Sabha seat, only to be defeated by BJP candidate Ghanshyam Lodhi.

Khan suffered another blow at Rampur Sadar assembly seat, which fell vacant after his membership was terminated in a case of inflammatory speech.

This time, it was BJP's Akash Saxena who defeated Asim Raja.

After the sentencing by the court, Azam Khan's right to vote has also been taken away.

There are approximately 17 lakh voters in Rampur Lok Sabha constituency, out of which about 43 percent are Muslims.

There are five assembly constituencies in the district, where Bilaspur, Rampur Sadar, and Milak seats are held by BJP, and Swar Tanda seat is held by BJP's ally Apna Dal (Sonelal).

Chamraua seat of the district is with SP.

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Muhammad Mazhar Saleem in Rampur
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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