New Delhi, January 20
Political high drama continued in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh with Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ on Thursday declaring himself a candidate against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur.
This will be Adityanath’s first election for the Assembly, and also of 34-year-old Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar.
The BJP’s main rival, the Samajwadi Party, is yet to announce its candidate.
Though in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he backtracked after saying that he would contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In 2020, he founded the Azad Samaj Party, whichannounced that Azad would contest the polls to further BR Ambedkar's motto of 'Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay'.
Last year, he had said, “It is not important for me to win a place in the UP assembly. It is important for me that Yogi Adityanath should not get to be the assembly. So, I will contest from wherever he contests.”
Azad and his party have no base in Gorakhpur or eastern Uttar Pradesh. The seat is with the BJP, with the sitting MLA being Radha Mohan Das Agarwal.
The Bhim Army drew attention during the May 2017 clashes between Dalits and upper-caste Thakurs in Saharanpur following which Azad was arrested. Arrested under the NSA, he was released in September 2018 after 16 months in jail.
Azad recently said his party, the Azad Samaj Party, wanted to join the SP-led alliance to defeat the BJP.
“After all the discussions, in the end, I felt that Akhilesh Yadav does not want Dalits in this alliance, he just wants Dalit vote bank. He humiliated the people of Bahujan Samaj, I tried hard but the alliance could not happen,” he had said recently.
Akhilesh Yadav has stitched an alliance with several small caste-based parties, building his campaign on social justice for backward classes and Dalits.
Azad said leaders of backward classes, Dalits and others are supporting Yadav in the belief that he would do social justice.
Gorakhpur is the political turf of Adityanath. He had been the MP from Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat since 1998 until he became the chief minister in 2017.
Azad said his party is open to having an alliance with others and that his fight is against the RSS and the BJP.
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