Azam Khan Shadow Looms Large in Rampur on ‘Outsider’ Nadvi, BJP’s Lodhi Prepares to Repeat Win on SP's Turf

1 month ago

Last Updated: April 12, 2024, 10:24 IST

Rampur, India

SP's candidate Maulana Mobibullah Nadvi (left) and BJP's Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi. (News18)

SP's candidate Maulana Mobibullah Nadvi (left) and BJP's Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi. (News18)

Speaking to News18, Nadvi admits that some SP supporters are upset but says: “In a family, there is always some difficulty but everyone is clear that they may be unhappy but they will vote ultimately for party supremo Akhilesh Yadav’s candidate”.

Mohammad Azam Khan is in jail and none of his family members or aides are in contest this time from Rampur, making it one of the first Lok Sabha elections here minus the ‘bahubali’ leader. But the strongman’s shadow is hanging large, at least over the official Samajwadi Party candidate — Maulana Mobibullah Nadvi.

Azam’s supporters term Nadvi an “outsider” and are not backing him whole-heartedly, brightening the chances of sitting BJP MP Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi again.

Speaking to News18, Nadvi admits that some SP supporters are upset. “In a family, there is always some difficulty and people get upset but everyone is clear that they may be unhappy but they will vote ultimately for party supremo Akhilesh Yadav’s candidate,” Nadvi told News18. Azam Khan had wanted Akhilesh Yadav to contest from Rampur. “Khan is supporting me along with his supporters. Akhilesh has sent me…it is a vote to support him itself,” he says.

Nadvi is the imam of Jana Masjid in Parliament House in Delhi and was a surprise choice for this seat with over 50 per cent Muslim voters. He is at pains to explain that he was born and brought up in a village near Rampur city and went to Delhi to get religious education from Jamia Milia and then became an Imam.

BJP’s Lodhi, meanwhile, says there is no contest. “Rampur has made up its mind. There is a Modi wave in the country and Rampur. Our opposition candidates are nowhere to be seen. I have not seen any vehicle or candidate of the opposition. It is a strange election. It would have been good to have a fight. But it is a one-sided election,” Lodhi told News18.

The Azam Shadow

Go anywhere in Rampur and one finds a foundation stone or plaque laid in the name of Azam Khan. The multiple-time MLA from Rampur and his son Abdullah Azam, who was MLA from Suar constituency near Rampur, stand disqualified from contesting after being convicted in criminal cases.

The bulldozer has run with aplomb in Rampur on Azam Khan’s properties under Yogi Adityanath’s rule. The paint is also peeling off the main signboard of Azam Khan’s pet project — the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University — and the main building seems to be in ruins.

When asked about the Azam factor, Nadvi says: “Election is never on any personality, it is a democratic system.” BJP’s Lodhi also says the Azam era is over. “It is democracy and a lot changes with time. Azam Khan once had his government in Lucknow and there was a thekadari (contract) system in the Samajwadi Party. This constituency was like a contract with Azam Khan. But there was no development in villages here under his rule. We did development here in the last two years,” Lodhi says. He won the seat in a bypoll in 2022 after Azam Khan was disqualified, but that poll saw just 32 per cent polling.

Nadvi says the bypoll in 2022 was riddled with irregularities as many Muslim voters did not go out to vote, fearing certain officials. “This is a problem this time too…I have been telling the authorities,” he says. Lodhi, however, counters this, saying the BJP has given benefits and schemes to Muslims and Hindus in Rampur and this is why many Muslims will also vote for the BJP. A group of Muslims in Suar, Rampur, told News18 that they will vote for BJP as schemes have reached them and there is no other “good candidate” in the fray. “There is peace in Rampur,” they say.

Nadvi touring Muslim Households

News18 found Nadvi, who is facing a tough battle, going door-to-door to meet Muslims on Eid and making an emotional appeal.

“People here feel an Imam has come from the Parliament House Masjid from where Maulana Azad had come and has come to a place where Maulana Azad had fought the election. I am giving a call for love and communal harmony. People don’t want votes to be split. Voting for the BSP candidate is a waste of one’s vote,” Nadvi told News18. He is also telling people that Rampur has seen a lot of stress and action by authorities and there is a mistrust among people and officials.

Lodhi says such tactics won’t work. “Our schemes have reached both Muslims and Hindus without bias or partiality. That is why both Muslims and Hindus are standing with the BJP in Rampur. This has always been a place of communal harmony. People want to be here with whoever works for development. I have served two years here,” Lodhi told News18 in Rampur.

In the Nasrullah Bazaar of Rampur, two burqa-clad Muslim women told News18 that the election is not about Hindu-Muslim issues but about who can bring development. “The fact is neither Azam Khan nor BJP have brought development here, besides the fancy entry gates which came up,” one of the women said.

Aman Sharma

Aman Sharma, Executive Editor - Affairs at CNN-News18, and Bureau Chief at News18 in Delhi, has over two decades of experience in covering th

...Read More

Read Full Article at Source