With the Samajwadi Party coming out in support of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to boycott a lecture at Harvard University in protest against the “humiliation” meted out to Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan at Boston airport, the focus has now shifted to the party’s next move.
The possibility of its playing the Muslim card ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha poll by using the issue of Mr. Khan’s detention, especially in this State, has not been ruled out in political circles.
According to reports from New York, Mr. Yadav has also cancelled a reception planned by the Indian Consul-General there for Saturday. He is cutting short his U.S. visit and taking a flight back home on Sunday.
“The Chief Minister gave a fitting reply to those who have tried to undermine Indian pride,” SP spokesman and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Rajendra Chaudhary said here. Mr. Yadav showed that he was a true “Samajwadi.”
Condemning the detention of Mr. Khan at the airport, Mr. Chaudhary said that by frisking the senior SP leader the U.S. “has shown its racial bias and prejudice against Muslims.” Even “Ram Manohar Lohia [SP ideologue] was arrested in the U.S. when he protested against racial discrimination,” he recalled.
In a statement, Mr. Chaudhary said, “America considers Muslims terrorists and a threat to its security.” And by doing so it was “playing a dangerous game of division along religious lines.” In this context, he mentioned the “treatment” meted out to the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and film star Shah Rukh Khan.
Slamming the UPA government, the SP said these incidents were a reflection of India’s weak foreign policy.