Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh on Tuesday threatened to quit the party over his tiff with senior SP leader Azam Khan.
Addressing a seminar on 'Indian Muslims and Lok Sabha elections', organised by the Students Islamic Federation of India in Lucknow, Singh suddenly launched a tirade against Khan. His speech clearly indicated that the prolonged clash of egos between the two SP bigwigs was threatening to tear the party apart.
Khan has vehemently opposed the party's decision to field Singh's close associate, actress-turned-politician Jaya Prada, from Azam's hometown of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. Khan's dissent has angered Singh, who virtually controls the SP, even though it is officially headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav.
"Azam Khan continues to humiliate me and I have continued to overlook all that simply because I have tremendous respect for Mulayam Singh Yadav , who does not want anyone to speak out against Azam Khan," he said at the meet, where he was accompanied by film star Sanjay Dutt.
"Azam Khan is very close to Mulayam Singhji; even closer than me, so I dare not utter anything against Azam under any circumstances," Singh stated at the seminar.
In a veiled warning to Mulayam, Singh declared, "Well, if people think that the party can survive without me but not without Azam Khan, I would not hesitate to say good-bye to Mulayam Singhji and make my exit."
Stunned by the political overtones of Singh's speech, few disgruntled Maulanas remarked that they would have not attended the seminar, "if we had known that this is going to be a gathering of politicians".
Incidentally, Singh has been largely responsible for alienating a number of prominent leaders in the Samajwadi Party over the years. These include leaders like Beni Prasad Verma, Raj Babbar, Saleem Sherwani , Shafiqur Rehman Burke and Shahid Siddiqui, who have joined either the Congress or the Bahujan Samaj Party.
No Samajwadi Party leader was ready to comment on the issue.
"No comments. You should ask Netaji (Mulayam) only," said party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.