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Updated: November 6, 2013 01:41 IST

Yes, Muslims sore but can they vote other parties, asks Azam Khan

Omar Rashid
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Azam Khan. File Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
The Hindu
Azam Khan. File Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

If they do so, it will be a grave mistake, says Muslim face of SP

Muslims are “disappointed, confused and feel insecure” in the wake of the Muzaffarnagar riots and this would cause “obvious” political damage to the Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister Azam Khan admitted on Tuesday.

But, he said, if they vote for other parties in next year’s general election, it would be a “grave mistake.”

“Who will they vote? The ones who allowed Babri demolition? The party that doesn’t even have candidates and workers in the State? That Congress? Or those who say that if [Narendra] Modi apologises [for the 2002 Gujarat riots] people would vote for him?” Mr. Khan asked.

Under fire, mainly from the Bharatiya Janata Party for his alleged role in the Muzaffarnagar riots, the Urban Development Minister said the accusations were “calculated” and that he was being “targeted”.

Mr. Khan said he was widely recognised as a “strong” and “progressive” Muslim face of the SP and other parties could not stomach this reputation.

“It’s an attempt to maim my image of being anti-corruption. I’m a thorn in the BJP’s side.”

Talking to The Hindu here, Mr. Khan also clarified that the recent controversies had done nothing to dent his relationship with SP supremo Mulayam Singh. “We share a personal relationship. We can’t stay away from each other. Divorces can never be good.”

Mr. Khan, however, avoided a direct answer to the question why none of the SP leaders had come out in his defence. “I’m not alone. But there is only one leader and that is Mulayam Singh Yadav.”

The Rampur MLA, who faces Opposition flak for “holding the SP to ransom” with his Muslim support, also downplayed his influence in the party: “I have no power to issue orders. I can only advise.”

On the many communal riots that have taken place under Akhilesh Yadav’s regime, Mr. Khan said: “Whenever we do something for Muslims and when they are moving towards a better life, there are riots.”

He said the Congress had done more damage to the communal fabric than the BJP, by blocking the “anti-riot” Bill for nine years.

“The Congress is first responsible for all the riots over the last nine years. Then the BJP. What does it show? That they want people to die, women raped and homes burnt? And the guilty go scot-free?”

Sarcastic about the two probable contenders for Prime Minister, he said: “Modi has a presence no doubt. But for the same reasons that we remember Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan and Halaku.” Taking jibes at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on various issues, including his comments on Muzaffarnagar riot victims being lured by Pakistan’s ISI, Mr. Khan said, “He should work towards enhancing his knowledge.”

“You go to Rampur and say that all plywood mills have shut down. Did anyone tell you that the mills shut down under Congress rule?”

On the speculation that the reinduction of Kunda MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya into the Akhilesh Ministry, even after accusations of his role in the murder of DSP Zia-ul-Haque, would not go down well with Muslims, a cautious Khan said: “I am not endorsing it or condemning it.”

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