How and where have I wronged Azam Bhai: Jaya Prada (Interview)

May 4th, 2009 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Sharat Pradhan
Rampur (Uttar Pradesh), May 4 (IANS) Fighting discontent within her own party rather than her political opponents in the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Samajwadi Party’s actor-MP Jaya Prada says she would have “abdicated” the Rampur Lok Sabha seat for her party rival Azam Khan if he had told her so.

Seeking re-election from Rampur, which goes to the polls in the last phase on May 13, the film star finds trouble brewing from within the ranks with veteran politician Azam Khan bitterly opposed to her candidature.

“I fail to understand how and where I have wronged Azam Bhai who I have always treated as an elder brother?” a jittery Jaya Prada asked.

The actor, according to party workers, has to spend more time and energy in keeping her own rank and file in place rather than training her guns on her two strong opponents - Begum Noor Bano of the Congress and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the BJP.

“I would have happily abdicated this seat if Azam Bhai had expressed his desire to contest from here,” Jaya Prada told IANS in an exclusive interview at the Modi Hotel on the outskirts of this city where she has been camping with her mother, brother and 10-year-old son Samrat, who loves to sport T-shirts emboldened with the party symbol, the bicycle.

“What was strange was that he has neither expressed his misgivings to me nor before (Samajwadi Party chief) Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav whose repeated efforts to contact Azam Bhai have also gone in vain.”

Asked if Azam Khan, a long time confidant of Mulayam Singh, was angry because of party general secretary Amar Singh’s domination over the Samajwadi Party, Jaya Prada shot back: “Why should Mr. Amar Singh be dragged into this controversy? How is he concerned?”

Azam Khan, who had joined Amar Singh in campaigning aggressively for the one time popular Bollywood star in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, has said Jaya Prada’s victory should be deemed the defeat of “Kaum and Millat (Muslim community)” and against the party’s goal of communal harmony.

Party leaders say Azam Khan’s tirade in a constituency that has more than 30 percent Muslim vote is eroding Jaya Prada’s support base. Amar Singh is eliciting the blessings of prominent clerics like Ahmed Bukhari of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, and has even roped in Mumbai pal and party MP Abu Azmi to counter Azam Khan’s campaign in Rampur.

“Abu Azmi saheb is an old friend so he has come to assist me in my campaign. Is there anything wrong in it?” Jaya Prada asked.

Though she says she is confident, the apprehension is visible, even amongst her close aides running her electoral show.

“It was because of the love and affection that the people of Rampur gave me that I wanted to get re-elected from here…” the actor said.

And what had she promised? “Revival of all sick industrial units to generate employment, construction of flyovers on railway crossings that cause long traffic jams on the national highway that runs through the city, creation of a bypass and a host of civic amenities.”

Asked why she had failed to do any of that in the last five years, Jaya Prada said: “I have been making periodic visits to this place and have always kept myself available to all and sundry, to listen to their problems and do the best to solve them.”

“There was a lot of improvement in civic amenities in the beginning when I had full support of Mr. Azam Khan in his then capacity as urban development minister. But a number of my plans could not be executed because of non-cooperation by the Mayawati government…”

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