Rampur: This is one battle, rather two battles, that have every eye fixed on it. The hostility between the rivals is legendary and parties do not matter much in this war.
Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Mohammad Azam Khan is contesting his Rampur seat, more to regain his reputation and honour by winning the seat.
He has been in jail since February 2020 and is facing nearly 100 criminal cases piled on him, ranging from buffalo and goat heft to land grabbing and power theft.
Once a powerful state minister in the SP regime, the incumbent Yogi Adityanath government has made a concerted effort to demolish his clout and influence in his constituency.
Challenging Azam Khan is his old rival Kazim Ali Khan, also known as Naved Miyan. Kazim Ali Khan, who belongs to the royal family of Rampur, is contesting on a Congress ticket.
Azam Khan has won the Rampur Assembly seat nine times since 1980, pitching himself as a common man pitted against the royalty.
This time, Azam Khan, who is still in jail, plans to use the sympathy factor to win the polls.
An aide of the SP MP says: “People are aware how this government has victimized the entire family, destroyed the Jauhar University which was built to educate Muslims. The sympathy factor now overrides all other considerations and we hope to register a major win for Azam Khan even if he remains behind the bars.”
Mohd Ishhaq, a local journalist, explains that though people were initially upset with Azam Khan and his autocratic behaviour, the manner in which he has been targeted in the past two years, has turned it into sympathy.
“When it becomes an overkill, the situation changes,” he said.
Kazim Ali Khan, who has been hopping between Congress and BSP, is confident of defeating his old rival.
“Azam Khan stands exposed and people know how he has behaved.,” he says.
Also in the fray is Akash Saxena of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). He is known as an anti-graft crusader in Rampur and most of the cases against Azam Khan have been filed by him.
However, the focus of the battle is restricted between Azam Khan and Kazim Ali Khan.
In the neighbouring Suar Assembly constituency, Azam Khan’s son, Abdullah Azam, is facing a tough contest from Haider Ali Khan, who is Kazim Ali Khan’s son. Abdullah had defeated Kazim from Suar in the 2017 Assembly election.
However, he was disqualified from the membership of the state Assembly following a dispute in his age-related documents.
Haider Ali Khan has been fielded on a Apna Dal ticket and this could prove to be a major drawback since the party’s symbol is not so well known in the region.
Haider had been named as candidate by Congress but for some reason, he crossed over to BJP and is contesting on Apna Dal ticket.
As the battle lines between the fathers and sons sharpen, the remaining candidates in both constituencies take a back seat.– IANS