The two leaders share dais after four years

Lucknow : Indications of a thaw between Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and former party general secretary Amar Singh emerged on Tuesday when both leaders shared the stage at the inauguration of a park named after the late Samajwadi Party leader Janeshwar Mishra in Lucknow.

A day ago Mulayam had sent an invitation to Amar Singh for the event and Amar Singh had announced that he would be coming, since it was an ‘a-political programme’. Mulayam and Amar had parted ways nearly four years ago, but had refrained from attacking each other.

However, the political ramifications of the move were clear when Amar Singh not only sat on the stage and was given company by senior minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, and the other senior minister Mohammad Azam Khan, stayed away from the programme.

The coming-together annoyed Azam Khan who had left the party in 2009 after Amar Singh’s growing clout in the party, and came back only a few months before the 2012 Assembly election. Speaking to the media, Azam Khan said, “he could not attend the park inauguration for some reason but said he and Amar Singh had different temperament”, wondering publicly if his days in the UP ruling party are numbered.

Signals about Azam Khan’s annoyance had started emanating a day earlier when, despite being one of the chief guests at an Urdu award programme held at chief minister’s residence, Azam did not turn up. A few hours prior to that programme, the state government had announced the deferment of Shia Waqf Board elections as demanded by Shia cleric Kalbe Jawwad, sometime after Jawwad’s meeting with Mulayam. Azam was known to be against this since Jawwad had been publicly alleging irregularities in the board at the behest of Azam Khan. The Shia-Sunni discord was said to be behind this controversy.

Azam and Amar Singh have been at loggerheads for more than five years now. In May 2009 Azam resigned as SP general secretary before the Lok Sabha election over the issue of his opposition to Jayaprada as Rampur candidate but basically against growing clout of Amar Singh and the induction of Kalyan Singh into the party. However, the SP fared badly in the election and forced the SP supremo to revoke Khan’s expulsion and in December 2010 he was taken back.

After the 2012 assembly election that gave a massive mandate to SP, Azam Khan was initially reluctant to join the ministry when it was clear that Akhilesh Yadav would head it, but he relented. On 25 July 2012, Azam Khan offered to resign after being removed as minister-in-charge of Meerut. His absence from the SP national executive meeting in Agra in September last year led to speculation as it was rumored that he was unhappy over the handling of the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Ratan Mani Lal

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