New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party (SP) has antagonized a section of its Muslim leaders with the induction of Kalyan Singh’s son Rajvir Singh into its fold. This section says the community has neither forgotten nor forgiven the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, who was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992. Singh had come under attack for allegedly playing a prominent role in the destruction of the disputed structure in Ayodhya.
Saleem Iqbal Shervani, a Lok Sabha member of the Uttar Pradesh-centric party, said: “Over the years, the sense of hurt of the Muslim community over the Babri demolition may have been reduced. But they cannot forget the faces responsible for what happened and Kalyan Singh was one of the most prominent leaders from BJP during that event (demolition).”
Muslims, who form nearly 18.5% of Uttar Pradesh’s population, are crucial for the SP, which for years has thrived on the support of the Muslims and Yadavs. “I fail to understand how we can give up on Muslim votes in the hope of gaining the minuscule per cent of Lodh votes that Kalyan Singh’s support could bring in,” said Shervani. Singh belongs to the Lodh community.
Mohammad Azam Khan, SP leader and one of the founding members of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, has expressed his unhappiness to party president Mulayam Singh over the induction of Rajvir Singh on 22 January, Shervani said.
SP general secretary Amar Singh, party leader Ram Gopal Yadav and Kalyan Singh were unavailable for comment.
Political analyst V. Krishna Ananth said Rajvir Singh’s presence in the SP will not damage the party’s ability to gain votes from the Muslim community. The Muslim leadership, he says, is often disgruntled with the party on account of denial of seats during elections. Another analyst who didn’t want to be identified said, “The (Muslim) community still believes in the SP. Encounter killings had come down during the SP’s rule (in Uttar Pradesh) and that is something the common Muslim is thankful for,” he said.