Even SP has wilted under the Hindutva wave, says party leader | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Even SP has wilted under the Hindutva wave, says party leader

Feb 23, 2024 08:23 PM IST

When the political discourse centres only around the BJP’s ability to `show Muslims their place’, the country has taken a dangerous turn, says Saleem Sherwani.

Samajwadi Party member, five-time former Badaun MP and ex-Union minister, Saleem Sherwani, says things have reached such a pass that even a staunch secularist party like his, has wilted under the Hindutva onslaught.

Former SP leader Saleem Sherwani and party president Akhilesh Yadav.(File)
Former SP leader Saleem Sherwani and party president Akhilesh Yadav.(File)

``Times have really changed. Even if a Muslim raises a legitimate issue today, he is branded an anti-national,’’ Sherwani told this reporter.

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Last week, he quit the post of Samajwadi Party (SP) national general secretary over the party’s “inappropriate” selection of Rajya Sabha candidates and neglect of the Muslim community and their issues.

Sherwani has denied that he had left the party post because he was denied a Rajya Sabha berth from UP this time. “I have repeatedly requested a Rajya Sabha seat for the Muslim community, according to the party’s tradition. Although my name was not considered, there was not a single Muslim candidate among the nominees announced by the party. The way tickets have been distributed for the Rajya Sabha shows that the SP does not give importance to the PDA or the pichada, Dalit, alpsankhyak (backward, Dalit, and minorities) sections anymore,’’ he said.

The SP has fielded veteran Dalit leader Ramji Lal Suman, actor Jaya Bachchan, whose term as RS member of SP comes to an end on April 2, and a former UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan, for the current Rajya Sabha election.

The veteran former MP said: “I have been consistently discussing the situation of Muslims with party chief Akhilesh Yadav, conveying to him that the community is feeling neglected and losing faith in the SP. There is a growing distance between the two, and the party should not underestimate their support. The sentiment among Muslims is increasing that no one in the secular platform is willing to address their legitimate issues.”

Taking his logic to another level, Sherwani queried: ``This raises the question of how different the SP from the BJP is?”

According to him, when the political discourse centres only around the BJP’s ability to 'show Muslims their place’, the country has taken a dangerous turn. ``Unemployment, poverty, joblessness, you name it, impact the majority 80% population of the country, who are Hindus. Where is the question of putting Muslims their place? The worst affected are the Hindus.’’

Saleem Sherwani won his first Lok Sabha election as a Congress candidate from Badaun in 1984. After that, he won four elections from the constituency as the SP candidate. When the party denied him a ticket to the seat in 2009 and fielded Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav instead, Sherwani moved back to the Congress and re-contested the seat. But Dharmendra won. In 2020, Sherwani came back to the SP.

Asked how Mulayam Singh Yadav would have stood up to this new alignment of forces and this new atmosphere, Sherwani said it is difficult to say, but "maybe, he would have been more independent and taken a stand.”

Also Read: Lok Sabha elections: SP, Congress seal UP seat share pact

Sherwani did not place too much trust in the INDIA alliance. ``The attempt to form a strong opposition alliance is proving to be futile. No one seems to be taking it seriously. It appears that the Opposition is more interested in fighting each other rather than combating the BJP,’’ he said, but added that ``the only silver lining is the new SP-Congress seat sharing in UP.’’

As per the terms of this agreement announced this week, Congress will contest 17 seats while the remaining 63 will go to Samajwadi Party and other allies as part of the INDIA bloc.

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