The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) government’s handling of the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh has come under criticism from one of the party’s minority mascots and its leader in Maharashtra, Abu Asim Azmi.
“The government was unable to control the Hindu-Muslim riots,” said Azmi, a former Rajya Sabha MP from UP and an MLA from Mankhurd-Shivajinagar in Mumbai.
“It is true that (the government) failed to control (the communal riots),” admitted Azmi, who hails from Azamgad, while, however, adding that the UP government had arrested those responsible for the flare-up, transferred officials and provided financial aid and succour to the victims.
“We will have to reign in officers,” he said. “We fell short in Muzaffarnagar,” said Azmi, adding that people in relief camps were afraid to go back to their villages and homes due to fear of the rioters.
Azmi said since “around 75%” of minorities had voted for the SP, rival parties wanted to reduce the share of Muslim votes cornered by the party to help their own fortunes. He claimed that UP provided more sops to minorities than Maharashtra, with budgets to the tune of Rs3,000 crore and Rs280 crore respectively.
“The minorities in UP will stay with the SP as we have done a lot of good work for them,” he claimed, adding the riots would not affect the fortunes of the party in Mumbai or Maharashtra as most Muslims from UP who had settled in Maharashtra hailed not from eastern UP, where the incidents happened, but from the Purvanchal region.
In the 2009 assembly polls, the SP, which counts Muslims and North Indians as its support base, could get four of its nominees elected in its most significant political opening in Maharashtra. It accounts for nine corporators in the BMC.
While Azmi is planning to contest the Lok Sabha polls from the Mumbai North-Central constituency, which is represented by Priya Dutt of the Congress and has a significant presence of North Indians and Muslims, corporator Rais Shaikh (Mumbai North-East), Azmi’s son Farhan (South Mumbai) and corporator Kamlesh Yadav (Mumbai North) are the other likely nominees. The SP may put up around 12 candidates in Maharashtra during the Lok Sabha elections.