Discontent in Samajwadi Party over Kalyan Singh (Lead)January 25th, 2009 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS
Lucknow, Jan 25 (IANS) The Samajwadi Party’s embrace of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalyan Singh, who was the Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the Babri mosque was razed in 1992, has sparked discontent in the party.Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav claims that his affinity with Kalyan Singh will not affect his goodwill among Muslims, whose support was responsible for taking his party’s tally to an all time high of 39 in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
But the simmering anger is visible in his party.
Prominent five-time Lok Sabha member Saleem Sherwani has made up his mind to quit the Samajwadi Party. Denouncing the “Kalyan deal”, he is set to contest the Budaun Lok Sabha seat as an independent.
Azam Khan, another well-known Muslim face of the party, is equally furious over Mulayam Singh’s move to embrace the “most communal face of the Hindu brigade”.
Khan told IANS: “This is just not acceptable to me. Kalyan Singh is a hardcore RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) man who was directly responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. How can I brush shoulders with a man like him? What has led Mulayam Singhji to go for such an alignment?”
Sherwani’s disillusionment with Mulayam Singh was already brewing on account of another factor - the former chief minister’s apparent bias for his kin.
Ignoring Sherwani’s claim to the seat from where he had won five times, Mulayam Singh has openly expressed his inclination to field his own nephew Dharmendra Yadav instead.
“Doesn’t he appear to be bitten by the same bug as Kalyan Singh - love for family above everything else?” asked Sherwani. “After all, Kalyan Singh too decided to abandon his BJP simply for the sake of his son Rajvir Singh.”
Mulayam Singh’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav won the last election from Mainpuri, where he earned a bad name for allegedly furthering his personal interests and neglecting the constituency.
Mulayam Singh has handed over Budaun to his nephew on a platter. The only thing that apparently dominated his mind was the high Yadav population in the constituency.
Budaun has about 316,000 Yadav votes and 290,000 Muslim votes.
Popular support for Sherwani comes from both communities. An impromptu public rally by him in Budaun drew a big crowd of around 35,000 last week. The locals swore to support Sherwani to the hilt - minus Mulayam.
However, Mulayam Singh does not seem to believe that the Kalyan Singh factor would cause any harm to his party’s prospects.
“Misleading statements by a few individuals will not change my goodwill with the Muslims, who are fully aware that none other than the Samajwadi Party is sincere and committed towards them,” he said.
Asked if Kalyan Singh’s profile as the key man behind the 1992 Babri mosque demolition will not impact his own image, Mulayam Singh shot back: “The temple-mosque issue does not hold any significance for the people of the state.”