Bringing his rift with senior party colleague Mohammad Azam Khan in the open, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh Monday lashed out at him at a grand party function to lend support to film star-turned-politician Jayaprada, the party candidate for the Rampur Lok Sabha seat.
Amar Singh gathered party celebrities Jaya Bachchan, newly-appointed general secretary and film star Sanjay Dutt as well as Bhojpuri star Manoj Tiwari for the function, held before Jayaprada filed her nomination papers.
Azam Khan, firebrand party leader and another general secretary, did not attend the event. Azam Khan has been opposed to re-nominating Jayaprada from the constituency.
Addressing the gathering, Amar Singh declared that Jayaprada has with her work proved that she is a dedicated party worker and not a "rani" - a queen bee.
He also claimed that the electorate "from the remotest corners of Rampur have admitted" that the development work done by Jayaprada in the constituency has overtaken that done by other Lok Sabha members from the area since 1952.
Amar Singh also brought out into open the rift between him and Azam Khan. Reacting sharply to Azam Khan's opposition to Jayaprada and his own efforts to mend fences with him, Amar Singh said: "Agar hum jhuk ke mil rahein hain to hamein kamzor na samjhen (If we meet you by bowing before you, do not treat it as our weakness)."
"Being a loyal party worker, it is my duty to make all efforts to keep the organisation far from those who intend to break it to satisfy their ego filled with jealousy. If one of our colleagues moves ahead and catches new heights, why do you feel hurt and frame filthy and baseless charges?" he asked, referring to the allegations Azam Khan levelled against him and Jayaprada in an interview to a Delhi-based TV channel Sunday.
"It has been propagated (by Azam Khan) that Rs.100 crore is being spent by Amar Singh to manage Jayaprada's election in Rampur, but I swear by god that not even a single penny has been spent by me for Jayaprada's campaigning," he declared.
Quoting from Azam Khan's interview in which he had alleged that Jayaprada's victory should be deemed as defeat of "Kaum and Millat (Muslim community)" and against the party's goal of communal harmony, Amar Singh recited Mahatma Gandhi's prayer "Sab ko sanmati de bhagwan" (may God grant good sense to all) and hoped that those who have a "habit of remaining jealous" be granted a "healthier mental frame".
Azam Khan has repeatedly made frontal attacks on Amar Singh, calling him a "broker of capitalists", an enemy of the socialist movement and a traitor of the Muslim community for the party's association with rebel Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalyan Singh, who was chief minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.
Speaking on the occasion, Sanjay Dutt sought to clarify his offer to give Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati a "jaadu ki jhappi" and "pappi" (a loving hug and kiss), saying his words were meant for "sisters, brothers and youngsters. However, if Behenji (Mayawati) has got annoyed by her brother's feelings, she may reject the remarks outright." The Uttar Pradesh government has booked the Bollywood star on charges of obscenity for his comments made during an election speech last week.
Dutt, in an attempt to woo the Muslim vote bank, also alleged that he was "humiliated" while in jail after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts because his mother was a Muslim.
"I was humiliated by the jail administration. They beat me up, saying my mother was a Muslim," he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reacting to Dutt's remarks, has called it "disgusting".