"Mulayam will have to face tremendous backlash from Muslim community if he dismisses Khan from the party. The Muslim leader will become an instant martyr if SP chief does so," he said.

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Singh's comments comes in the wake of SP national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, taking a dig at Khan, considered the party's Muslim face, saying no one can "blackmail" the party as none had the stature which Mulayam enjoys among Muslims.

However, Mulayam "has no guts" to remove Khan as he was testing waters in the run-up to the next year's general elections, Singh charged. The former SP leader advised Khan to remain in the party and continue his fight from within. "My advice is Azam should not be an emotional fool like me," he added.

Singh also said the coincidence of Mulayam praising BJP patriarch LK Advani and removing two Muslim leaders – Shahid Siddiqui and Kamal Farooqui - over a period of time suggests that the SP is positively looking for a better role to create a bridge with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Siddiqui was removed for interviewing Modi in an Urdu weekly published from Delhi on Gujarat riots. Farooqui was expelled for his remarks on Indian Mujahideen top operative Yasin Bhatkal saying that the accused might have been arrested as he was a Muslim.

(Agencies)

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