Edit/Op-Ed

Azam Khan Set to Walk Free; SP Glum, BJP Glee

The offer is on the table for Azam Khan to walk free from jail. The only condition is that a sulking Azam Khan should bid adieu to Samajwadi Party (SP) while leaving jail. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning a 440-volt jolt to the principal opposition party in Uttar Pradesh — SP, by dangling the carrot of freedom at Azam Khan, who felt let down by SP president Akhilesh Yadav. Azam Khan is reportedly told that he can join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The BJP leader Amit Shah is resurrecting the BSP to break the SP. Mayawati will oblige Amit Shah by appointing Azam Khan as national general secretary to come back in the game for the 2024 general elections to the Lok Sabha.

There is a beeline of leaders from different political parties to lure Azam Khan to their side. Congress sent its religious guru Pramod Krishnam with a reported offer of a place in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and national general secretary post, though Pramod denied any political talk took place during their meeting. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) Jayant Chaudhry and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) leader Shivpal Yadav also met Azam Khan in jail. Shivpal Yadav reportedly took the BJP’s message that if Azam is to walk free soon, he must leave the SP and not criticize the top three leaders of the BJP till 2024. The BJP will have no objection if Azam Khan moves to New Delhi. BJP’s Gonda MP Brij Bhushan Singh is expected to meet Azam Khan in Sitapur Jail to know about Azam’s decision. Mulayam Singh Yadav is keeping a tab on the developments through his daughter-in-law and recent convert to BJP Aparna Yadav, who is close to BJP’s top most leader in Uttar Pradesh.

If Azam Khan agrees to the deal and leaves the SP, he may take away at least half a dozen legislators with him. The SP will be dented in the Rampur region. Azam Khan may take time to decide his next political move and alignment. He may ask for a ‘cooling period’ from active politics to get mental peace and nurse himself back to health. The BJP may be more than willing to allow this cooling period. This period will give him enough time to come to a decision to which party he will join in the future. It will not be an easy ride either in the BSP or in Congress. In the BSP, he will have Satishchandra Mishra as a barrier. He will not have direct access to Mayawati. He will not be consulted by Mayawati in the distribution of tickets for the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. In the Congress, Azam Khan will have to go past KC Venugopal, Randeep Singh Surjewala, and Digvijay Singh before he can meet Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi. Azam Khan has been a de facto number 2 in the SP. How will he take this demotion in a new party? It is just a matter of one more bail required if Azam agrees to the deal or the trap set for him. If this happens, SP will be glum and the BJP will not hide its glee.

It remains to be seen whether the Sheer Khorma will taste sweeter for Azam Khan this Eid ul Fitr? His wife and son will be waiting for him at home!

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