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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

SP move to field Azam Khan’s wife from Rampur aimed at cashing in on sympathy for him

The SP declared Tazeen Fatima’s candidature hours after the BJP announced Bharat Bhushan Gupta’s name for the seat that was never won by a non-Muslim since the first election in 1952.

assembly-elections Updated: Sep 30, 2019 07:44 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal
Pankaj Jaiswal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
The Rampur assembly seat fell vacant following Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan’s resignation after he won the Rampur Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 polls.
The Rampur assembly seat fell vacant following Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan’s resignation after he won the Rampur Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 polls.(PTI File )
         

The Samajwadi Party’s decision to field its Rajya Sabha member Tazeen Fatima, wife of party’s Lok Sabha MP Azam Khan, as its candidate is being considered a ‘smart and desperate move’ to retain the Rampur assembly seat. The by-election for this and other 10 other UP assembly seats will be held on October 21. The counting of votes is scheduled on October 23.

The seat fell vacant following Azam’s resignation after he won the Rampur Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 polls.

The by-election is likely to witness a straight contest between the SP and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Azam Khan as the central figure.

The SP declared Tazeen’s candidature hours after the BJP announced Bharat Bhushan Gupta’s name for the seat that was never won by a non-Muslim since the first election in 1952.

The Congress has fielded Arshad Ali Khan and the BSP Zubair Masood Khan.

Rampur and Azam Khan have been in the news over the district administration’s action against the MP. The number of cases against him has gone up to 85. These include the cases of buffalo theft and goat theft. The state government already declared him ‘Bhu mafia (land grabber)’.

The Samajwadi Party intends to cash in on the ‘sympathy’ among the people over the way Azam Khan, his family, friends, associates have been allegedly ‘targeted by the ruling BJP’, which has been accused of political vendetta.

Azam Khan won the seat nine times since 1980. Neither the BJP nor the BSP has ever won the seat. Since 1980, the Congress has bagged the seat only once, in 1996.

The Azam Khan factor is so prominent in the district that the BJP could not win the Rampur Lok Sabha seat in 2019 polls despite the party bagging 64 of the 80 seats across the state.

The BJP had fielded Azam’s arch-rival and two-time Rampur MP Jaya Prada against him. Azam’s son, Abdullah Azam, is the MLA from Suar, another assembly seat in Rampur.

Prof SK Dwivedi, a political analyst and retired head of the department of political science, Lucknow University, says: “It might be different this time on the seat. It is true that BJP never won the seat in Azam Khan’s ‘(political) territory’, but the BJP has made him more controversial than ever before and has managed to put doubt in the minds of the people about him.”

With an eye on the bypoll, the SP has already taken the agitation route to counter BJP’s strategy against Azam.

SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav extended support to Azam through his statements in Lucknow. The party’s national president Akhilesh Yadav kept the issue in the spotlight with his visit to Rampur. Akhilesh Yadav, repeatedly, called the Rampur district magistrate a “government agent”, and his party petitioned the Election Commission, seeking transfer of the DM and the SP for the sake of a free and fair bypoll in Rampur.

Dwivedi said: “While all the other candidates (SP, BSP, and Congress) are Muslims and all previous winners too were Muslims, the BJP’s choice of a Hindu should make SP worry.”

Earlier, there was speculation that the BJP might field the sister of union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Naqvi had won the Rampur Lok Sabha seat on the BJP ticket in 1998.

If Tazeen wins, Rampur’s political map would show Azam Khan as the local MP, his wife as the MLA, and their son Abdullah Azam as the Suar MLA. But such a victory would also mean that the SP would lose one more Rajya Sabha seat. Three of its RS MPs had quit their membership in August. They were re-elected to the Rajya Sabha as BJP members.

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 20:47 IST

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