Muslim leaders put Mulayam in soup

SP supremo fails to pacify warring Azam Khan and Ahmed Bukhari

 An all out war between two prominent Muslim leaders has put the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his party virtually in a Catch-22 situation. 

 This has come as a threat to his efforts to keep his Muslim vote bank intact for the next Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Mulayam, known for adopting tough stance on indiscipline, finds himself helpless in dealing with the situation arising out of an open war between senior minister Azam Khan and the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari.
Yadav, who is already grappling with infighting in the party, has so far not taken sides. But his silence has emboldened the two ‘warring’ Muslim leaders. Bukhari and Azam Khan never enjoyed cordial relations. Their verbal duel began almost with the formation of the SP government in the state when Khan took serious exception to the nomination of Bukhari’s son-in-law to the Legislative Council.  The Imam too was not happy as he demanded one more berth for a Muslim candidate nominated by him. Despite Khan’s objections, which he made public, Mulayam obliged to Bukhari annoying Khan further.  “Bukhari cannot even win a municipal poll. I challenge him to win even a municipal election”, Khan had then said, and asked the cleric to confine himself to religious issues. “The fight between Bukhari and Khan has become personal”, said a senior SP leader here. “Mulayam cannot afford to annoy either. He seems to be in a bind’, he added Bukhari has now demanded ouster of Khan from the Cabinet and threatened to stage a dharna if his demand is not met. “The Muslims will desert Mulayam if he does not remove Khan,” he said. “The Muslims are pained at the failure of the SP to fulfil the promises it had made to them in the Assembly polls. You (Mulayam) have given the departments pertaining to Muslim welfare to a person (Azam), who is least interested in their welfare”, Bukhari said in a letter to Mulayam. Their war has come at a time when the SP government is sparing no effort to woo the Muslim community. The government has taken several measures in the interest of the community in an apparent bid to garner support.  Muslims, who constitute around 20 per cent of the state’s electorate, play a decisive role in around 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

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