The first stop for Azam, son out of jail was this SP leader’s house

SHIVPAL Yadav wasn’t the only familiar old face from the Samajwadi party around to welcome Azam Khan’s release from prison after two years, on Friday. The home of a former party legislator in Sitapur was one of the first SP MLA layoffs on his way home.

Anoop Gupta, who was a two-time MLA in SP but was unsuccessful in the previous assembly elections, hosted Azam’s team at home.

Earlier, Azzam’s son, Abdullah, who was released before the last assembly elections, had fallen into Gupta’s home first thing from prison.

While there were a few amazement at the tension in relations between Azam and the Socialist Party leadership, particularly leader Akhilesh Yadav, the elders said this gesture from the veteran — whose every movement is being monitored by the state — was purely personal.

Gupta’s father, the late Om Prakash Gupta, was part of the old guard of the Revolutionary Guards and has close ties to Azam and his family. By the way, it was the old guard and companions of the shepherd SP Mulayam Singh Yadav who were infuriated under the leadership of his son Akhilesh.

Among the notables beside Azam on Friday was Shivpal Yadav, brother of Moallem, who put up his party when relations with Akhilesh reached breaking point. While returning to the SP fold now, his party did not merge with her.

Azam, his supporters, Shivpal and some Socialist Party leaders spent about 45 minutes at Gupta’s home.

A senior Socialist Party leader said that apart from old family ties dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, Azam visited the Guptas family where their house is located near Sitapur prison, where he was housed. “He went to thank the Guptas family for their support during his difficult times and had a snack there,” the commander said.

He admitted that “all commanders of the old guard consider him (Azzam Khan) their mentor and elder”. “Now, if he is going through a hard time, the old guard will obviously be on his side. Hence the Gupta family helped Azam during his time in prison and gave Azam the courtesy to visit them after he got out of prison.”

Gupta, 52, won as a Socialist Party candidate from Misrikh in Sitapur in 2007, and from Maholi in Sitapur in 2012. In the last two elections, the Socialist Party submitted him from Maholi again but lost both times to BJP candidates.

Om Prakash Gupta passed away in 2012 after a heart attack. His last rites in Sitapur were attended by leaders of various party lines.

When Azam arrived at Rampur, his jibe district, along with Shivbal, was waiting for him with an even greater welcome. The leader of the Socialist Party, swept by a crowd of supporters, said that his “people” had contributed to his “destruction”. “The BJP or the BSP or the Congress is not a big question for me at this time,” Azam said.

Azzam Affective also spoke about the time Covid was imprisoned. “I was the only one left in the hospital ward. I saw all the bodies leaving.”

Azzam, who has been awarded the MLA title 10 times, said he never compromised his integrity. I am not the one who sells his conscience. I will not sell my country nor my community.”

Regarding the corruption charges against him, he said: “I haven’t been in politics for 40 years to get gold and silver bracelets. I don’t even have a bungalow.”

Azzam also said that Muslims are being punished for their right to vote. “All political parties realize that Muslims can spoil the equation of political dress.”

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