Lucknow: The young Dalit leader of Western Uttar Pradesh and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad launched his political party, the Azad Samaj Party, in Noida on Sunday, the birth anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram.
His party flag will be blue. Apart from large number of his young followers, over 28 ex-MLAs and six former MPs also attended the event which has alerted the Bahujan Samaj Party and other outfits in the State which is headed for Assembly polls in 2022.
"BSP is represented by upper caster leaders like Satish Chandra Mishra in Rajya Sabha and Ritesh Pandey in Loksabha. My party will provide Dalit leadership to represent the Dalits," Azad said. He also said that Mayawati called him agents of some party or the other.
His move is seen as a direct challenge to BSP chief Mayawati whose party has so far been the sole beneficiary of the Dalit votes. Some disgruntled BSP members are likely to join Azad, who is young and active on ground and has been at the forefront of Anti-CAA and Anti-NRC.
He also intends to join hands with Om Prakash Rajbhar, a former BJP ally and a prominent OBC leader of eastern UP and some Muslim groups. Bhim Army, which runs 350 free schools for underprivileged in Saharanpur, Shamli, Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, is likely to join the “Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha” launched by Rajbhar recently to bring the Dalits, Backward Castes and Minorities groups under one umbrella ahead of the Assembly elections. This would be on the line with Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar’s political experiment in Maharashtra.
In a veiled attack on Azad, Mayawati on Sunday said people with vested interests are playing into the hands of rival political parties and claimed they have nothing to do with BR Ambedkar and his movement.
"Even now, people with vested interests are playing into the hands of rival political parties. The truth is that these people are only using their (Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram) names to realise their vested interests," she said in a statement issued by the BSP central office in New Delhi.
To counter the Bhim Army's plan to enter the political arena and erode the political base of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mayawati has convened a meeting of party leaders and office bearers in the first week of April.