Lucknow, Dec 31: At a time when the Samajwadi Party is split into two camps, all eyes will be on Azam Khan, the man who holds the key to Muslim votes as well as candidates in a state that has been marred by communal tensions. For the party that is threatened by anti-incumbency due to communal incidents during its tenure, Khan's support means a share in the 20 per cent Muslim votes.
The senior Uttar Pradesh minister and SP leader has called for a meeting of the party's Muslim leaders at 3 pm on Saturday and a call on which camp they will support is likely to be taken. While Azam Khan has said that Akhilesh's expulsion will add a dark chapter to the party's history, he stands by Mulayam Singh Yadav for the present.
While more than 190 MLAs and MLCs gathered at Akhilesh's residence to meet with him, Azam Khan headed to the party office to meet patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mincing no words to express his displeasure over Amar Singh's role in the recent developments he asked, "Who is responsible for this gloomy state of affairs? A single person's conspiracy and nefarious intention have put the state up for auction."
It is to be seen if Azam Khan's dislike for Amar Singh will influence his loyalty to Mulayam Singh Yadav or his game plan to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of the race will lead him to support Akhilesh Yadav in what could turn out as an alliance with the Congress party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.