Chandrashekhar Azad joins UP Opposition alliance
The non-BJP axis of smaller parties that is taking shape in Uttar Pradesh for the Assembly polls next year appeared close to enlisting an arguably impactful ally in Bhim Army president Chandrashekhar Azad on Saturday.
Azad met Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar in Lucknow on Saturday. “The Dalits and most backward classes are struggling to survive in Uttar Pradesh. We discussed this...,” said Chandrashekhar.
Rajbhar, who has named the new formation Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha, said Azad had agreed to join the alliance. He said the alliance would be one of the most formidable forces to take on the BJP in the 2022 elections.
Earlier, Shivpal Yadav, president of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s younger brother, Rajbhar and Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Hyderabad MP, had met and agreed to join hands.
The proposed front in Uttar Pradesh also includes Mohamed Ayub, the president of the Peace Party of India.
“It will be a strong group and we together will be able to remove the BJP from power,” said Ayub, whose party had won three seats in 2012 but none in 2019.
Rajbhar said Owaisi would visit Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, on Tuesday and discuss strategy.
Observers, however, believe that the members of the new formation have strategically kept their ideology and leanings unclear. Most of them have either had associations with the BJP in the past or have been accused of tacitly helping the party.
During the recent Bihar elections, Owaisi had faced allegations of indirectly helping the BJP by splitting the minority votes. The AIMIM won five seats in an area where Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress were strong.
Rajbhar was an ally of the Yogi Adityanath government and a cabinet minister before he quit in 2019.
Shivpal had warmed up to the BJP after his removal from the Samajwadi Party in 2017 and still enjoys a bungalow and security provided by the ruling party and its government.
Rajbhar’s party has four MLAs in Uttar Pradesh while Shivpal is the lone MLA of his outfit. Owaisi is yet to open his account in the state while the Bhim Army has not contested an election yet.
Chandrashekhar emerged as a leader of the Dalits in west Uttar Pradesh in June 2017 when he was arrested on the charge of involvement in a series of Dalit-Rajput clashes in Saharanpur. The National Security Act was slapped on him. He was released in September 2018.
Bahujan Sama Party president Mayawati, who claims to control the Dalit votes in the state, accuses Azad of being “an agent of the BJP”.