Key contests in Lok Sabha election 2019: Jaya Prada vs Azam Khan in Rampur
She used to call him her brother. He used to campaign for her. For Jaya Prada and Azam Khan, however, memories of bonhomie are long gone - replaced by sharp and scathing verbal attacks.
Jaya Prada and Azam Khan will renew their rivalry in the upcoming Lok Sabha 2019 election as both of them look to bring down one another and win from the Rampur parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
Both leaders are familiar with one another and having worked for the Samajwadi Party, have been party colleagues as well. But even as SP leaders, both of them hardly ever saw eye-to-eye with the verbal duel often descending into cheap talk. While Jaya Prada had quit TDP to join SP, Azam Khan joined the party in 1993 after being part of four different parties in through the 1980s. Many consider Azam Khan as a seasoned politician who is well-versed with the political pulse of UP. In contrast, Jaya Prada brought the advantage of glamour with her and it is believed that the main issue of differences between the two came about because of in-party issues.
It is quite strange to reflect back into history and take note that once upon a time - in 2004, Azam Khan had campaigned for Jaya Prada in Rampur constituency. She has publicly said that she used to consider him like her brother. In the following years, however, the bonhomie turned bitter with both leaders accusing each other on a number of issues.
By 2009 Lok Sabha election, Azam Khan had begun supporting Congress' Begum Noor Bano against Jaya Prada, having himself left SP. She even alleged that he had circulated morphed (and objectionable) photos of her - a charge denied by him.
Next year, Jaya Prada and Amar Singh were expelled from the party on charges of anti-party activities.
Azam Khan would rejoin SP and lead the charge against Jaya Prada who then contested - and lost - the 2014 Lok Sabha election on an RLD ticket. Through it all, she maintained that Azam Khan was abusive and had intimidated her while campaigning for her in 2004. She would also say that he reminded her of Alauddin Khilji from the Bollywood movie 'Padmaavat.'
Azam Khan has been ferocious in his onslaught against the actress-turned-politician - even calling her 'naachnewaali.'
Now, the two would face off against each other in the key constituency of Rampur. Jaya Prada - who is contesting on a BJP ticket - has said that she is not intimidated by Azam Khan anymore and that 'he is a performer who is fighting election to cover his acts.' Rampur is familiar territory for Jaya Prada although Azam Khan too is a strong contender courtesy his years of political experience.
While BJP is looking at sweeping UP in the upcoming election, the SP-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance is hoping to act as a solid roadblock. SP received 37 seats - including Rampur - according to the seat-sharing arrangement with BSP and RLD.
It promises to be a riveting battle - one that could see high-octane drama come the third phase of voting for Rampur (April 23).