New Delhi: Left out of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is trying to reach out to Dalits and the underprivileged voters in the State.
This was more than apparent when Congress general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia made it a point to call on Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad in a hospital in Meerut. The Dalit leader was hospitalised following his arrest the previous day.
He had allegedly flagged off a procession of his motorbike-borne supporters which the police say is a violation of the model code of conduct. Azad took ill soon after his arrest and had to be hospitalised. Speaking to Priyanka, Azad said he will fight against PM Modi, were he to contest from Varanasi.
Azad has no love lost for Smriti Irani as well because of her alleged role as Human Resource Development Minister in scuttling a fair probe into the death of Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula in Hyderabad Central University. Soon after Yogi Adityanath Government took over in 2017, Azad was arrested under the National Security Act, amid caste violence which had rocked parts of Saharanpur.
After his release from Saharanpur prison, Azad urged the BSP leader to form a grand alliance against the BJP. Mayawati, however, tried to distance herself from him. FPJ spoke to a socialist leader from Varanasi, Shiv Kumar, who is a former students’ union president of Banaras Hindu University.
Kumar said that caste-based parties were keeping the Congress out of the non-BJP formulation and this could lead to a division of votes. The meeting of the two Congress leaders with Azad could further annoy Mayawati and cast a shadow on Congress’ fortunes in UP.