Highlights

  • Azam Khan released from jail after 27 months
  • Khan was lodged in Sitapur jail
  • Reports of rift between Khan and SP have emerged in recent times

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Azam Khan released: what does the political swayamvar look like for UP's powerful Muslim leader?

Could Azam Khan's release from jail rock the political boat in UP?

This is political serenading outside Sitapur jail in Uttar Pradesh.

The man with heena-dyed hair on the left of your screen is Mohammad Azam Khan, born in Rampur a year after India won Independence in 1947.

An influential figure in the power corridors of India’s most populous state, Khan has been a Parliament member for 10 terms. But he is a much taller figure in the state’s politics, one of the founders of the main Opposition Samajwadi Party.

The man greeting him outside the jail is Shivpal Yadav. They together worked in the Samajwadi Party under their now ailing leader Mulayam Singh Yadav who now remains in political oblivion.

This isn’t a perfect picture. Perfect pictures are rare in politics.

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A perfect picture would have been Mulyama Singh’s son and incumbent Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav greeting Khan at the gates of the jail. Not to be. Akhilesh’s bete noire, his uncle Shivpal, is in the frame.

In April, Akhilesh visited several jailed Samajwadi members, but didn’t pay a visit to Khan.

There are others who want to join Khan’s political swayamvar too in case he wants to move on from the party he co-founded.

RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh are all said to be wooing Khan. Then there is Mayawati who recently slammed BJP over Khan’s prolonged incarceration. He remained in jail for 27 months.

Khan who has a substantial clout and the backing of a large Muslim voter base, is in all likelihood taking a new path but whoever he picks, the political certainty is; a massive setback for the largest Opposition in Uttar Pradesh is in the offing.

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