Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party`s expelled leader Azam Khan was formally re-inducted into the party amid emotional scenes at the party headquarters here.
As Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav welcomed Khan with open arms, Mulayam`s younger brother Shivpal Yadav came forward with his resignation letter from the position of leader of opposition and offered it to Khan.
Khan looked at the resignation letter with a smile but tore it up, saying: "I am not interested in any position, Shivpal Yadav will continue to remain the leader of the opposition" in the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
Mulayam Singh then embraced Khan once again as shouts of "Azam Khan-Mulayam Singh Yadav zindabad" (long live Azam Khan and Mulayam Singh Yadav) from party workers rang out.
Khan was expelled from the party after the Lok Sabha polls last year, following his differences with Mulayam Singh over the latter`s sudden bonhomie with expelled Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalyan Singh. Khan`s oft repeated criticism of then powerful party general secretary Amar Singh further accelerated his exit from the party.
Known for his proximity to Mulayam right from the early days of the Samajwadi Party, Khan had emerged as the Muslim face of the party, whose rise was attributed heavily to its Muslim support base.
Khan`s exit from the party dealt a severe blow to that support base, specially since it was followed by the party`s increased proximity to Kalyan Singh, who was identified as the man behind the demolition of 16th century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya.
Realisation of Khan`s significance dawned on Mulayam Singh after the party suffered reverses in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking on the occasion, the Samajwadi Party chief made it a point to emphasise on the significance of Khan`s presence.
"If you had been in the party, I am sure we would have got more than a dozen seats more in the parliament elections," he said. To this Khan quickly responded: "I believe that it is not just the count that matters at all times; what one needs to stick to is one`s party ideology with which there should be no compromise."
Khan also took repeated digs at both Amar Singh and Kalyan Singh, without mentioning their names.
Mulayam Singh also called upon partymen to give up factionalism, get down to reinforcing the Samajwadi Party at various levels throughout the state, and prepare it for the next assembly polls, 18 months away.