Samajwadi Party strongman Mohammad Azam Khan's strongly-worded statement expressing displeasure at party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's meeting with Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders has not gone down well with several party leaders.
VHP president and other Ram Temple movement leaders who met Mulayam and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav at the latter's residence on Saturday had reportedly asked him to persuade Muslim leaders to give up the claim over the disputed site - claimed by both Muslims and Hindus - where the Sangh parivar wants to construct a Ram temple.
Unhappy over the development, Khan also did not turn up for the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, when an important decision for the welfare of the minorities was passed.
Many party leaders see Khan's statement as an overreaction. A senior Muslim SP leader said on the condition of anonymity that there was no need for such a sharp reaction when Mulayam had already made his stand on the issue clear.
Another SP leader said Khan's statement was simply aimed at creating confusion in the Muslim community.
An incensed Khan had taken a strong objection to Mulayam's meeting with "those responsible for the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992".
"This meeting and the hype it got have reopened the wounds of Muslims who are yet to come to terms with Babri demolition," Khan said.
The statement said: "It has reported that Mulayam Singhji accepted the VHP invite to mediate with Muslims on the issue. If that is true, I wish to make it clear that only sort of mediation agreeable to Muslims would be the mediation for reconstruction of Babri mosque."
He had said Muslims were wondering whether giving "so much importance to someone like Singhal" was needed at all.
However, soon after the meeting, Mulayam told senior executive committee member of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Zafaryab Jilani, who is also the additional advocate general of the state, that SP or the state government had no plan to intervene in the controversial Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi issue.
Jilani told the media after the meeting that the SP supremo told him that he was in favour of the status quo on the issue.