Atiq Khan

LUCKNOW: After keeping mum for over a month, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh is ready to mend fences with his estranged colleague, Mohammad Azam Khan. However, he gave no indication that he would dissociate himself from the former Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Kalyan Singh, in a bid to placate his senior party colleague.

Mr. Mulayam Singh said he was willing to sort out differences with Mr. Khan, including those about SP general secretary Amar Singh. Mr. Singh described Mr. Khan as an old and trusted colleague. At a press conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Singh appealed to Mr. Khan to either talk to him directly or fix a date, time and place of his liking where the two could meet. Mr. Singh asked him to attend party meetings, as with the Lok Sabha polls round the corner, the time had come to launch the real struggle.

Mr. Mulayam Singh revealed that he had tried to contact Mr. Khan, adding that on Tuesday he made 15 to 20 phone calls. However, Mr. Khan’s phone remained switched off. He said if he were to go to Rampur (Mr. Khan’s hometown) there was a possibility that he would leave the city.

The Kalyan Singh issue had rocked the SP with Mr. Khan openly accusing his party president of “deceiving” Muslims by aligning with Mr. Kalyan Singh , who has been dubbed “destroyer” of the Babri Masjid by the senior SP leader. The issue threatened to create a dent in the Muslim support base of Mr. Singh and with Mr. Khan, often described as the “Muslim face” of the Samajwadi Party, taking up the issue strongly, Mr. Singh found himself in a difficult situation.

Referring to the Kalyan Singh factor, Mr. Mulayam Singh said the former BJP leader had owned up for the demolition of the Babri mosque when he was the Chief Minister. He had expressed regret that as the Chief Minister he should have, but could not, save the mosque, Mr. Mulayam Singh said. Moreover, in the SP government of 2003 both Mr. Khan and Mr. Kalyan Singh’s son, Rajveer Singh, were members of the Cabinet, he added.