However, he is confident of winning majority of votes
With the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh, and his old friend Mohammad Azam Khan back together again, the Samajwadi Party, clearly banking on the support of Muslims, is certain to give its opponents a run for their money in all the five Assembly seats of Rampur district.
Elections here will be held in the seventh and last phase on March 3. Rampur has the largest concentration of Muslims voters in a single district in the State, a fact not missed by political parties, barring the Bharatiya Janata Party, when naming their candidates.
In Rampur, the SP's ‘Muslim face' and sitting MLA, Mohd. Azam Khan, is pitted against Congress' Tanveer Ahmad Khan, a medical practitioner.
The Congress appears to be emboldened by its 4.5 per cent Muslim reservation announcement and the fact that the former Rampur MP, Begum Noor Bano, is canvassing for the party after her son's return to the Congress. The Rashtriya Lok Manch of Amar Singh and Rampur MP Jaya Prada also considers itself a serious contender after having given the ticket to Reshma Afroz, wife of the former Congress MLA, Afroz Ali Khan , a known critic of Mr. Azam Khan.
Given the animosity between the RLM leaders and Mr. Azam Khan, it appears that the RLM's sole agenda in Rampur is not to win the election but to settle scores with the SP candidate.
While Ms. Jaya Prada has been credited with the development of the district, Mr. Azam Khan has been blamed for the ills plaguing the place and the plight of the poor Muslims.
Rampur has 3.17 lakh voters, with Muslims constituting about 58 per cent of the electorate. Mr. Azam Khan is confident that the majority of the Muslim vote will go to the SP in all five constituencies notwithstanding minority community candidates fielded by the other parties.
“All this talk of my not winning from here is a propaganda being spread by the criminal class and vested interests whose existence is in danger,” Mr. Azam Khan said while talking to The Hindu at his residence in Ghair Baz Khan.
Projects and promises
He said that if re-elected, he would work towards finishing all development projects, launched when he was a Minister in the Mulayam Singh government, and which were subsequently abandoned by the Mayawati government. His pet project, the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, which he claims was bulldozed by the Mayawati administration, the Rampur Sugar Factory, sewerage system, roads and Gandhi Samadhi, are the projects named by Mr. Azam Khan.
An interesting feature is the return of Begum Noor Bano of the Rampur royal family as the chief campaigner for her son, Kazim Ali Khan alias Naved Mian, who has been given the Congress ticket from Suar Tanda. Mr. Ali Khan was elected MLA from Suar on a SP ticket in 2007, resigned from the party and was again re-elected on a Bahujan Samaj Party nomination in the hope of becoming a minister. This time round, he has joined the Congress and was named the candidate.
Interestingly, there are four Muslim candidates from Suar Tanda, the others being Ghafoor Engineer (SP), Abdul Azeem Khan (BSP) and Mahmooduz Zafar Rahmani (RLM).
In Chamrauva, Atiur Rehman of the Congress, Yusuf Ali (BSP), and Naseer Khan (SP) are locked in a fight with Ujwala Ram Lodhi (BJP).
The sitting Congress MLA from Bilaspur, Sanjay Kapoor, will try to retain his seat. He is locked in a straight fight with Veena Bhardwaj of the SP. The fifth seat of Shahabad is reserved and two-time BJP MLA Kashi Ram Diwakar will try to win a third term.