Kalyan-Mulayam Bonhomie Draws Muslim Ire

New Delhi
Kalyan-Mulayam Bonhomie Draws Muslim Ire
Samajawadi Party today felt the jitters of drawing close to former BJP leader Kalyan Singh with a Muslim MP raising his voice in revolt and others threatening to do so.

A formal beginning was made today when SP's known Muslim face and three-time MP from Moradabad Shafiqur Rehman Barq voiced his dissent against the party's tie-up with Singh.

"Mulayam Singh Yadav's statement that Kalyan Singh was not involved in the demolition of Babri Masjid is completely baseless and wrong. The friendship between Kalyan and Mulayam has opened the wounds of the Muslims and hurt their self-respect," Barq told reporters.

Though SP has not yet formally declared a candidate from Sambhal, sources said Barq has been denied the ticket for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from this seat. Barq wanted to shift to Sambhal post the delimitation as it has a sizable Muslim population.

"I will contest from Sambhal this time as an independent candidate," Barq said. He said he was aware of SP's plan to field another Muslim candidate from this seat.

Barq is not the lone voice of dissent. Mulayam's close confidante and former minister Mohammad Azam Khan is also said to be miffed. SP had to rein in Khan for stating that its tie- up with former BJP stalwart Kalyan Singh has irked minorities.

Terming Khan's remark "unfortunate" and "surprising", SP's Uttar Pradesh unit spokesman Rajendra Chaudhry said such a remark would boost the morale of the party's rivals who may whip it up for political mileage.

Khan was apparently unhappy with actress Jaya Prada fighting the last Lok Sabha elections from Rampur, where he is an MLA. SP has fielded Jaya Prada from Rampur again.

 Shahid Akhtar, who had recently switched sides from BSP, had termed the alliance with Kalyan as "damaging" in a 'panchayat' of Muslim scholars and religious leaders recently.

Another SP leader Salim Shervani, who was denied ticket for Lok Sabha polls, is also holding public meetings questioning Yadav's proximity with Singh. Sources close to Shervani said he may try for a Congress ticket from Badaun.

He has already decided to contest this seat, even if he has to fight as an independent, the sources said.

Claiming that he was in touch with other Muslim MPs, Barq today said Samajwadi Party had lost the support of minorities after coming close to Kalyan Singh.

"Mulayam Singh should know that Kalyan Singh was imprisoned for one day for the Babri Masjid demolition," Barq, who is also the convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee, said.

When asked whether he would quit SP, Barq said he had not taken any such decision but "if the party wants, it can oust me".

Kalyan Singh has stated he would campaign for SP during the elections. His son, Rajbir Singh, joined SP as a general secretary on January 21, a day after Kalyan quit BJP.

A Lodh by caste, Kalyan Singh has influence over the backward communities in west UP areas. Yadav is another influential leader of the backwards or OBCs.

During the last assembly elections in UP, SP was nearly wiped out in west UP, with majority of seats going to Bahujan Samaj Party.

The effort during the general elections is to regain the lost ground in West UP to increase its seats in the Lok Sabha so that it emerges as a stronger force.

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