Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has come under attack from his own minister, who has accused him of being 'anti-Muslim'.
Haji Yaqoob Quraishi, who holds the minorities welfare portfolio, first shot into prominence when he declared a Rs 510-million reward for the head of the Danish cartoonist, who drew the blasphemous sketches of Prophet Mohammed.
Accusing Yadav of paying only 'lip service' to the Muslim community, Quraishi told IANS, "I doubt if Yadav can list even three things he has done for the Muslim community during his three stints as Chief Minister."
"He has smartly used the media to project himself as a true messiah of the Muslims. The fact is he has been deceiving the community," Quraishi alleged.
Asked why he was still a part of the Mulayam government, Quraishi said, "Let Yadav take action against me. As far as I am concerned, I am speaking the truth by expressing my displeasure at his style of dealing with Muslim issues."
Asked if he was being influenced by some of Yadav's political rivals, Quraishi shot back, "No one can lure me. I am my own master." He also ruled out the possibility of contesting the next state assembly polls on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket.
"I will neither contest on the SP ticket nor accept offers that are coming from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the Congress. I have the support of a large chunk of the Muslim community," he claimed.
His ire against Yadav also emanates from the fact that the chief minister declined to lend him an ear against a cabinet colleague and UP's Urban Development Minister Azam Khan, who is a close Yadav confidant.
Quraishi and Khan have been at loggerheads and Yadav has been tying to iron out the differences between them.
The minister's outspokenness has put Yadav in a tight spot. He can neither afford to initiate disciplinary action against the minister nor ignore him. Either way it spells trouble for his Muslim vote bank.
Yadav succeeded in winning over Muslims en bloc after he ordered firing on Hindu kar sewaks (activists) - for attempting to storm the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex in the ancient Hindu temple town of Ayodhya during his first stint as chief minister.
The 16th century Babri mosque was later pulled down by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime in 1992.