With the Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh yet to open the channel of communication to settle the differences with the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid and the State Urban Development Minister, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Mohammad Azam Khan on Monday mounted a fresh attack on the Maulana.
Mr. Khan has now demanded an apology from the Shahi Imam for using derogatory words for Rajya Sabha MP, Munawwar Saleem, who was his choice for the SP's Muslim candidate in last month's Rajya Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh. He also dared Imam Bukhari to contest the mayor's election from Moradabad, which is his in-law's place, and claimed that he will take political ‘sanyas' if the Maulana wins.
Of late, both the Shahi Imam and the SP's ‘Muslim face' have been engaged in a war of words, suggesting that it was now a face-off between Mr. Khan and Imam Bukhari, and that the scene had shifted from the Samajwadi Party president.
Reports suggest that party president Mulayam Singh will talk to the Shahi Imam in a bid to sort out differences over the latter's rejection of his son-in-law Umar Ali Khan's nomination for the Vidhan Parishad elections as Mr. Singh left for Delhi on Sunday. Nominations for the polls started on Monday.
Reports quoting the Jama Masjid Imam said that the Samajwadi president had a telephonic conversation with him on Saturday night. Reports said that Mr. Singh sought to buy time from the Maulana in a bid to settle the issues raised by him in his letter to the SP chief. Imam Bukhari has also demanded that Mr. Azam Khan be sacked for his conduct as a Minister and for speaking against him.
Mr. Singh was in Delhi on Monday, and sources in the Samajwadi Party said that the meeting between him and the Jama Masjid Imam is yet to take place. Sources added that it is not certain when the Samajwadi Party president will return to Lucknow, considering that the nomination process for Vidhan Parishad polls and the lone Rajya Sabha by-election commenced on Monday.
Even as the dispute and the differences are yet to be sorted out by the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister who had tied up with the Shahi Imam before the State Assembly polls, Mr. Azam Khan has made it clear that he will not be cowed down by Mr. Bukhari's threats. Accusing the Shahi Imam for using un-Islamic language, the Urban Development Minister said he ( Azam Khan) did not need any one's support.
Interestingly, as the Azam Khan-Maulana Bukhari feud threatens to spill over, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has kept himself away from the controversy, leaving his father and his senior cabinet colleague to settle the issue.