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After snapping ties, Shahi Imam to hold rally on Mulayam's home turf

After snapping ties, Shahi Imam to hold rally on Mulayam's home turfLucknow, March 16 : Spelling trouble for Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), Syed Imam Bukhari of Delhi's Jama Masjid Saturday said he would hold a rally at party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's home turf Etawah April 21 to "expose" its real attitude towards Muslims.

Bukhari, who supported the SP in the run-up to the 2012 assembly polls in 2012, Friday announced he was severing ties with the party. He asked his son-in-law Umar Ali, a nominated member of the state's upper house, and relative Waseem Ahmad Khan, the chairman of the Civil Defence Council, to quit their posts.

Accusing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of "abjectly failing to protect the interests and lives of the minorities", Bukhari told IANS that he will now be holding a massive rally in Etawah where victims of the riots in various districts of the state would be invited to spell out the "reality of the pro-minority SP".

Sources in the SP say the Imam, before taking the final plunge, had called Mulayam Singh with his complaints but could not get any positive and reassuring answer from him.

"The Imam wanted certain issues to be addressed, including cutting down of Mohammad Azam Khan's size but this is not acceptable to the party leadership," a senior party leader said. Azam Khan, the state's urban developmentand minority welfare minister is considered very close to the party leadership but is daggers drawn with the Shahi Imam.

The Imam's clout with the Muslims is said to be instrumental in weaning back the minority vote in favour of the SP, which had drifted away after Mulayam Singh had forged an alliance with former chief minister and then Bharatiya Janata Party rebel Kalyan Singh, who is seen by the community as the villain in the Babri mosque demolition.

The loss of the Shahi Imam's support, many feel, would hurt the party as he tries to retain his party's vote base in the run-up to the Lok Sabha 2014 polls.(IANS)