Mulayam Singh Yadav (69) is a harassed man. The situation in his party is getting worse.
The growing clout of his party general secretary Amar Singh, 53, has got more and more of his own partymen annoyed. That even includes Mulayam's own brother Shivpal Singh Yadav and son Akhilesh Yadav. Former senior leaders like founder member Beni Prasad Verma and cine star Raj Babbar got so annoyed with Amar Singh that they quit the party. The latest to voice his irritation with Amar Singh openly is another general secretary, Mohammed Azam Khan.
Mulayam's newfound friendship with Kalyan Singh - who was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 — has also angered the Muslim leaders and Yadav’s party supporters.
Unlike Babbar and Verma, both of whom had problems only with Amar Singh, Azam Khan is not only on the war-path with Singh, but is also upset with the Yadav-Kalyan tie-up.
Two other Muslim leaders who revolted against Yadav and quit are: Dr Shafiqur Rahman Barq and Salim Sherwani. But they did so only because they were denied the tickets they desired. Sherwani joined the Congress and is contesting from Baduan, the seat he didn’t get from SP. Barq is now the BSP candidate from Sambhal.
Khan, a six-time MLA, opposed actress-turned politician Jayaprada’s re-nomination from Rampur. But Amar Singh wanted her and Amar Singh prevailed. Khan openly rebelled. His supporters clashed with Singh’s men when Jayaprada came to campaign in Rampur — Khan’s assembly constituency and his stronghold — earlier this week. Things were so bad that Jayaprada offered to back down; while Amar Singh said he would quit the party. Things calmed down after Yadav intervened and Singh apologised to Khan.
However, Khan is still fuming. He is upset about Jayaprada, Amar Singh and most of all the collaboration with Kalyan Singh. On Wednesday, Khan told a news channel that his fight within the party was on ideological issues. “I will not tolerate mixing of religion with politics,” he said.
The Congress is likely to benefit from the SP infighting in Rampur as the Muslim vote gets split. Khan isn’t bothered. “Kalyan factor is bigger than any other issue,” he said. Looks like, Khan is preparing for life outside of the SP.