Azam Khan returns to SP

Azam Khan
While Khan terms the return as his homecoming, Mulayam says his party could not move ahead without him

It was an emotional homecoming for Azam Khan, who on Saturday rejoined the Samajwadi Party, raising hopes for Mulayam Singh Yadav to recover the lost Muslim vote banks in the 2012 Assembly polls.

Khan, former Leader of Opposition and MLA from Rampur, was expelled from the SP soon after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls on charges of indulging in anti-party activities.

He met SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence here Saturday morning. Both reached the party office together to attend the meeting of state office bearers convened here to formulate the strategy for the 2012 Assembly polls. The meeting was attended by SP MPs and MLAs and other senior leaders. The two leaders shook hands signaling that they had buried the hatchet.

Shivpal Singh Yadav, Leader of Opposition and Mulayam's younger brother, offered to vacate the office to accommodate Khan. Khan, however, declined the offer saying, "If I accept the offer then it will send a negative message that I have cut a deal with the SP. My joining the SP is unconditional."

In an emotional speech, he said, "Mulayam Singh ne dal se nikala tha, dil se nahi nikala tha (Mulayam Singh had expelled me from the party but not from the heart)." In an obvious dig at Amar Singh, Khan said, "We both were expelled from the party but look where I have reached."

Mulayam, beaming with confidence over the return of Khan to the party, said, "Azam is member of my family and I have no ill-feeling about him. There was some hurdle due to which he had to be expelled from the party but now everything has been sorted out."

"On several occasions after the expulsion of Azam Khan from the party I wanted to criticise him but my conscience never permitted me," he said. "Had Azam Khan observed restraint during the last Lok Sabha polls, SP would have won at least 35 seats, still the ranking of the party in Lok Sabha is now on number three, earlier it was on number four."

"The homecoming of Azam Khan has instilled a new sense of confidence and has boosted the morale of the party and this has also added to the overall responsibility of the party leaders for the next assembly elections," said the SP chief.

"Bahujan Samaj Party will be our main rival," he said, adding that the Congress has been wiped out of the Hindi belt.

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