Rampur Lok Sabha seat: The importance of being Azam Khan

The jailed Azam Khan had requested SP president Akhilesh Yadav to fight from Rampur

Azam Khan Azam Khan | PTI

Azam Khan might be in jail, but his presence looms so large over the Samajwadi Party that it is yet to finalise the candidate for Rampur even as nomination closes today.

While senior SP leader Shivpal Yadav went to Sitapur jail to meet Khan, state party president Naresh Uttam rushed to Rampur on Wednesday morning.

Also, a chartered plane was sent to fetch Maulana Mohibullah Nadwi from Delhi to file his papers.

This is not what Khan wanted. He had requested SP president Akhilesh Yadav to fight from Rampur, given the constituency’s ‘special status’.

Nadwi, an Imam at a mosque in Delhi, originally hails from Rampur. As the party’s choice, it sends out a message to Khan who, for long, has been the party’s ‘Muslim face’.

Khan’s choice, if not Yadav, was Azim Raza who has also bought a set of nomination papers this morning. Khan’s supporters had also issued an appeal in favour of Raza to ‘ease’ matters for Khan, who is imprisoned, along with his wife and son, in a case of forgery.

Some of Khan’s supporters also said that they will boycott the Rampur election if his choice is not honoured.

On Tuesday evening, the Rampur SP district president Ajay Sagar said in a press conference that if Yadav would not be the party’s candidate, the unit would stay away from the election. Later, a letter in Azam Khan’s name began to circulate, calling upon the party to give Rampur the same importance that was given to Etawah, Kannauj, Mainpuri and Azamgarh. The said letter also announced Khan’s boycott of the election if the condition (of Yadav’s candidature) was not met.

After getting his papers, Raza said, “The status will soon be clear.” At the time of filing this report, he had not submitted his nomination while Nadwi had started the process.

If Khan continues to back Raza, he might fight as an independent candidate, thereby creating problems for the SP. Khan has, from different parties, been an MLA from Rampur 10 times.

Rampur will go to the polls in the first phase on April 19.

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