Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Friday flagged off a cycle yatra from Rampur to protest against the ‘continued oppression’ of its senior leader and MP Azam Khan.
Through the yatra that will wind its way to Lucknow on March 21, passing through various districts, the SP will seek to strengthen its base among Muslim voters who form a crucial segment of the magical MY (Muslim-Yadav) combination that has kept the party in the centre stage of Uttar Pradesh politics since the last three decades.
Khan is the tallest Muslim leader in SP and the Yogi Adityanath government has been targeting the Khan with a slew of criminal cases since July 2019. Khan is currently lodged in Sitapur jail since February 2020, along with his son Abdullah Azam.
According to the party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary, the yatra will begin from Rampur, the home district of Azam Khan, and culminate in Lucknow on March 21.
“The purpose of this yatra is to register public anger over the actions of the BJP government against the founder of Mohammad Ali Jauhar University and SP MP Azam Khan,” said Chaudhary.
The yatra will pass through Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Lakhimpur and Sitapur to reach the party headquarters in Lucknow where the party president will address workers. All these districts have a sizeable Muslim population.
“The yatra will focus on the manner in which efforts are being made to demolish the Jauhar University which is one of the finest educational institutions. The government is on a vendetta mission,” said party spokesman Anurag Bhadauria.
Akhilesh, who addressed the public meeting Rampur on Friday, mounted a blistering attack on the state government, accusing it of indulging in the politics of hatred.
Political analysts are of opinion that the move by the SP to focus on Mohd Azam Khan and Jauhar University through the cycle yatra will definitely help the party in consolidating its base among Muslims and also adopting a confrontational approach towards the ruling BJP.
The party will also position itself as the main opposition party against the BJP elbowing out the Congress and the BSP.