Samajwadi erupts in anti-US protests

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 29.04.13
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Lucknow, April 28: The ruling Samajwadi Party has hit the streets across Uttar Pradesh in an eruption of anti-US protests following the “insult” to state minister Azam Khan who was frisked at Boston airport this week.

Samajwadi MLA Irfan Solanki burnt US President Barack Obama’s effigy in Kanpur raising anti-US slogans. “America down, down. The Boston insult is an insult to India,” his supporters chanted.

Party national spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said the “insult” to Azam was “an expression of a sick mindset”. “He was insulted because he is a Muslim. We refuse to believe the US is a truly democratic country,” Chaudhary said.

Azam had arrived in Boston as part of a 12-member team led by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was to speak on the Kumbh Mela at Harvard University’s South Asia Institute.

Akhilesh pulled out of his Harvard speech in protest against Azam’s detention and frisking, and deputed chief secretary Javed Usmani to deliver it instead.

Former state advocate-general S.M.A. Kazmi praised Akhilesh for his stand. “The young chief minister is a true torch-bearer of his father’s legacy,” Kazmi said in an allusion to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s pro-minority politics.

A political commentator suggested that one reason for the strident demonstrations was the Samajwadis’ fear of losing a chunk of Muslim votes to the Congress if Narendra Modi is projected as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate.

“An insult to a minister is bad but the demonstrations are part of the Samajwadis’ attempt to woo Muslims. They fear that some Muslims may vote tactically for the Congress in the general election, especially if the buzz about Modi being fielded from Lucknow proves true,” said A.K. Verma, a teacher of political science at Christ Church College, Kanpur.

Muslim voters, who make up 19 per cent of the state’s population, form a key Samajwadi support base.