New Delhi: Suar is situated a few kilometres from the erstwhile princely state of Rampur, but the royal sheen had never really rubbed off on the city until now. This time, the constituency, which voted in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, is being wooed by a nawab, a political heir apparent and a commoner.
Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, the titular nawab of Rampur, has been a member of the UP legislative assembly for four consecutive terms. Having won all his elections so far on a Congress ticket, Khan has now moved to the Bahujan Samaj Party, a party led by Dalit leader Mayawati.
Standing against him is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Laxmi Saini, who lost against the nawab in 2012. But it is the Samajwadi Party candidate who is drawing attention— 26-year-old Abdullah Azam Khan, the youngest son of UP minister and SP strongman Azam Khan.
Abdullah Khan is among the scions of political families who have entered the fray in these elections. They include Sandeep Singh, grandson of former chief minister Kalyan Singh, Pankaj Singh, son of home minister Rajnath Singh and Mriganka Singh, daughter of lawmaker Hukum Singh.
The SP is going all out in its efforts to ensure victory for the young Khan. After newspaper reports said Azam Khan, the state’s urban development minister, had released Rs156 crore for the development of the constituency over the past six months, Nawab Kazim Ali Khan filed a plea with the Rampur district magistrate, objecting to Abdullah Khan’s candidature, saying he was not old enough to contest the election. Candidates have to be at least 25 but his plea was dismissed by the constituency’s returning officer.
Abdullah Khan, an engineer by training, is currently the chief executive officer of Rampur’s Mohammad Ali Jauhar University where his father is chancellor and his mother Tazeen Fatima—she is a Rajya Sabha MP in her own right—is pro-chancellor.
In an interview with the Indian Express newspaper, Abdullah Khan, defended his decision to contest from Suar, saying, originally, people wanted his father to contest from there. “As he couldn’t, I am fulfilling their dream…No candidate was interested in contesting from here but I took it as a challenge and will create a record by defeating the Nawab," he says.
Abdullah Khan’s father is a recurring theme in his conversations. The young Khan was first noticed when he spoke at one of his father’s rallies during the 2014 elections. Khan sr. had been prevented from campaigning by the Election Commission after he made some communal remarks during his campaign, and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav asked his son to address a meeting at Suar.
At his rallies, Abdullah Khan has repeatedly highlighted the development work done by his party in the area. He insists that the Nawab’s four-time win from the constituency has not resulted in any benefits for the people and that it’s now time for a change.
Akhilesh Yadav’s SP is seeking another term in UP on grounds of development and Abdullah Khan is banking on the same pitch. His rallies boast good turn-outs but Suar is yet to elect a SP candidate. It remains to be seen if the constituency will see a new son rise or remain loyal to its Nawab.