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Mulayam ready to mend fences with Khan

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Mulayam Singh Yadav addressing a press conference in Lucknow on Tuesday.
Mulayam Singh Yadav addressing a press conference in Lucknow on Tuesday.

Atiq Khan

However, gives no indication that he would disassociate himself from Kalyan Singh

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, Mr. Mulayam Singh gave no indication that he would disassociate himself from the former Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Kalyan Singh, in a bid to placate his senior party colleague.

Mulayam’s plea

The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said he was willing to sort out differences with Mr. Khan, including those reportedly related to SP general secretary Amar Singh. Mr. Mulayam Singh described Mr. Khan as an old and trusted colleague and one of the founders of the SP.

At a press conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Mulayam 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. In an impassioned plea to the senior SP leader, 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.

Stating that the party’s national executive would meet in Lucknow on March 21, the SP chief said he expected the former Minister to attend the meeting.

Phone calls

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 the Muslims by aligning with the former Bharatiya Janata Party leader, 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.

Kalyan factor

Referring to the Kalyan Singh factor, Mr. Mulayam Singh said the ex-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.

As if to convey the message that the former BJP vice-president was not inimical to the Muslim cause, Mr. Mulayam Singh announced the name of Zafar Alam as the SP candidate from Aligarh for the Lok Sabha polls “on the recommendation of Mr. Kalyan Singh.”

Aligarh is the home district of Mr. Kalyan Singh and Mr. Alam is the owner of Link Lock Industries.

Meets ulemas

Mr. Mulayam Singh assured his colleague that he would never work against Muslims’ interests. His assurance was in the light of the meeting with ulemas and religious leaders convened by Mr. Khan at an undisclosed location here on Monday.

After the meeting, an appeal was made to Mr. Singh by the participants to give an assurance on Muslim interests.

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