Jailed Samajwadi leader Azam Khan on Sunday refused to meet an emissary of party president Akhilesh Yadav, at a time Khan has been entertaining leaders from other parties who have been talking about a “new axis in Uttar Pradesh”.
Against the backdrop of a revolt from Azam’s supporters who are angry with Akhilesh and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav for remaining silent despite Khan languishing in prison for two years, Samajwadi MLA Ravidas Mehrotra had reached Sitapur jail on Sunday.
Later, talking to reporters at the gate of the prison, Lucknow Central lawmaker Mehrotra said: “I am here along with some other leaders on the direction of Akhilesh Yadav, our party president. However, Azam Khan refused to meet me and informed me through jail officials that he was unwell.”
“Azam Khan is a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party and won the Assembly election from Rampur from jail (earlier this year). We will soon organise a dharna under the leadership of Akhilesh at the Vidhan Sabha demanding his release,” added Mehrotra, a close confidant of Akhilesh.
A source close to Khan, a nine-time MLA who has been in jail, over land-grab charges, told The Telegraph: “Azam Khan doesn’t want to fall into the trap of Mulayam and Akhilesh. He is completely disillusioned with them as they have not done anything for his release. It appears that Mulayam and Akhilesh are hand-in-glove with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath and are ready to sacrifice Azam Khan as part of a secret understand with the BJP”
“There is a theory that Mulayam and Akhilesh are under pressure from the government because the Centre may start a case of owning disproportionate assets against them. The Yadav family owns many houses at the posh Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow, besides having two offices. All these allotments were either illegal or bought at throwaway prices by threatening the real owners. The CBI is probing the multi-crore Gomti River Front scam that took place when Akhilesh was chief minister between 2012 and 2017. The father and son don’t want to go to jail and are making Azam a sacrificial goat,” the source added.
On Friday, Shivpal Yadav, Samajwadi MLA and Akhilesh’s uncle, had met Khan in jail and criticised elder brother Mulayam for not coming to the imprisoned leader’s aid. “Netaji should have raised in Parliament the atrocities against Azam Khan. It is unfortunate that he remained silent. I will talk to Yogi about this,” Shivpal, who has had testy ties with Akhilesh and periods of bonhomie with the BJP, had said after meeting Khan.
Before that, Jayant Chaudhary, president of Samajwadi ally RLD, had met Khan’s son Abdullah Azam in Rampur and spoken of a new political axis in the state.Young Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad has also sent feelers to Khan.