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New political possibilities on U.P. horizon 

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav (right) greets party leader Azam Khan after the latter was released from jail in Sitapur on May 20, 2022.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav (right) greets party leader Azam Khan after the latter was released from jail in Sitapur on May 20, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

On May 20, as senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mohammad Azam Khan was released from a jail in Sitapur after spending 27 months there, what stood out was that his former colleague and estranged uncle of party president Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav, was physically present to greet him.

Mr. Akhilesh, who was in Lucknow attending a special session of the Assembly, welcomed Mr. Khan’s release with a tweet even as some second-line SP leaders were at the spot. “Lies last only for moments, not centuries,” he tweeted in reference to the dozens of alleged false cases lodged against Mr. Khan by the State government.

Ever since loyalists of Mr. Khan came out in public to accuse Mr. Akhilesh of not doing enough to support the incarcerated leader from Rampur, Mr. Shivpal increased overtures and indicated he was interested in building a new political alliance with Mr. Khan.

Where Mr. Khan, an SP MLA like his son Abdullah Azam, truly stands politically after two years in jail would be revealed after he settles down in his west U.P. borough Rampur, but by driving from Lucknow to Sitapur to welcome the Muslim leader, Mr. Shivpal, who has distanced himself from his nephew, showed his intent and got tongues wagging once again about new political possibilities.

“A new sun is rising on the horizon of Uttar Pradesh,” Mr. Shivpal tweeted as he informed his followers that he was headed to Sitapur to welcome Mr. Khan. Mr. Shivpal then shared pictures of him greeting Mr. Khan next to a car.

In one of the frames, Mr. Khan was seen with his hand placed on Mr. Shivpal’s chest in reciprocation of the Yadav leader’s friendly gesture.

Rapturous welcome

In Rampur, Mr. Khan received a rapturous welcome and delivered an emotional speech on his “sufferings” in jail and political journey.

While talking to journalists soon after, he however, maintained a studied silence on what he thought about the SP and its lack of support for him during his ordeal. 

“I was never a leader. If I was a leader, I would not be able to do so many of these things. I wouldn’t be able to build a university and school for children,” he said to a question if the party stood by its leader. 

But he threw hints that he was not pleased with the situation as he avoided direct replies to questions on Mr. Akhilesh. 

Asked if he could be be an alternative to the BJP in U.P. as he was courted by many non-SP parties, Mr. Khan said that the BJP, BSP or the Congress were not a big question for him at this moment as thousands of cases had been filed against his family and supporters.

Meri tabahiyon mein Mera apna haath hain. Mere apne logo ka bada contribution hain (I have a role to play in my own destruction. My own people have a big contribution in it),” he said. He also said he did not hold any grudge against those who did not support him during his ordeal. “I want to thank those who did whatever they could for me. I would also like to thank those who did not do anything,” he stated.

Apex court grants bail

Mr. Khan was released from jail a day after the Supreme Court exercised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant him interim bail in a case, the last of 87 cases he was implicated in.

Mr. Khan had said the Yogi Adityanath government had relentlessly registered cases against him to ensure he stays in jail. Mr. Khan had secured bail in 87 criminal cases.

With the interim bail order, the Supreme Court had provided a new standard to justice, said Mr. Akhilesh. He also expressed confidence that Mr. Khan would be acquitted in all the “false cases.”

Naresh Uttam Patel, SP U.P. president, asserted that Mr. Akhilesh as well as other leaders had raised Mr. Khan’s matter from “sadak to sadan” (streets to the Assembly). “We fully stand by him. He is a senior leader of the party,” said Mr. Patel, describing the Supreme Court interim bail order a “victory of justice.”

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 12:36:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/out-of-jail-azam-khan-says-his-own-people-have-a-role-in-his-destruction/article65439961.ece