Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan and his son Abdullah are gearing up once again to battle it out with traditional foes the Rampur Nawabs in the ensuing Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
Azam Khan and members of the Nawab family have a long history of political rivalry. Time and again Azam Khan has either contested himself or has fielded candidates against the members of the royal family in the Lok Sabha or assembly elections.
Akhilesh Yadav-led SP has fielded Azam Khan, who is sitting MP from Rampur Lok Sabha seat, from Rampur constituency while his son Abdullah will contest from Suar assembly seat. Azam Khan is currently in jail after several cases were registered against him.
The SP veteran will face Congress candidate Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, son of Congress leader Noor Bano and a member of Rampur's Nawab family. BJP has given a ticket to Akash Saxena, who had filed several cases against Azam Khan, from the Rampur assembly seat.
SP has pitted Azam's son Abdullah Azam Khan from Rampur's Suar assembly seat against a member of Rampur's Nawab family, Haider Ali Khan, who is contesting elections on Bharatiya Janata Party ally Apna Dal's ticket. Interestingly, Haider Ali Khan was declared as a candidate for Suar seat from the Congress party on January 13. However, Haider severed his ties with the Congress and joined Apna Dal. Congress is yet to declare another candidate from the constituency.
The rivalry dates back to 1970 when a young Azam Khan began his political career by defeating Zulfiqar Ali Khan, a member of the royal family of Rampur.
Azam Khan's son Abdullah Azam Khan on Monday defended his father over the issue of contesting the election from jail by saying, "It is the wishes of people of Rampur, which makes Azam Khan contest election from this seat even if he is in jail."
"We have applied for his bail. We hope that he comes out of the prison before the elections. If the party has given him a ticket, he will fight the election and win it," he said.
However, Congress candidate Nawab Kazim Ali Khan believes that the people of Rampur will elect him this time because "people don't care about Azam Khan anymore."
"It doesn't matter whether he fights the election from jail or not. He has not worked on the development of Rampur instead he has always created problems for the people of the people living here," Khan said.
On the other hand, BJP candidate Akash Saxena believes that SP is out of the election in the Rampur seat and his "only competitor is Congress candidate".
"Azam Khan has kept the people of this area away from education and employment so that he can always lead them and no one asks any question," said Saxena.
Both Rampur and Suar assembly seats will go to the polls in the second phase of UP elections on February 14.
Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls for its 403-member assembly in seven phases on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27, and March 3 and 7. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.