New Dalit party takes shape in UP

The emergence of Azad Samaj Party will put a strong challenge before BSP chief Mayawati to keep intact her following, reports Mudit Mathur

On the birth anniversary of founder of the Bahujan movement, Kanshi Ram, one of his stanch supporter and the Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad announced formation of his new political party  the Azad Samaj Party  amid presence of thousands of supporters carrying blue flags in their hands in Basai village of Sector-70 in Noida. The emergence of a new Dalit party would put a strong challenge before Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati to keep intact her following that was gradually declining with her extravagant life style and arrogance.

The announcement of the new political party alarmed Mayawati as the event attracted presence of her 28 ex-MLAs and six former MPs. Thousands of Bhim Army supporters and workers were present during the announcement. The political circles feel that the formation new political party is a direct challenge to BSP chief Mayawati’s leadership who until now was the sole beneficiary of the Dalit votes.

Azad explained his supporters that the Bhim Army will continue its functions as a social and cultural arm of the Azad Samaj Party. Bhim Army will participate in the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register for Citizens (NRC) as before.

Tizzy over emergence of new political equations in the western parts of Uttar Pradesh, bastion areas of her dominance, BSP chief Mayawati convened an urgent meeting of her leaders and cadres to take stock of the situation in the first week of April. In the anniversary function of BSP founder Kanshi Ram on 15 March, Mayawati made scathing remarks pointing indirectly at Chandra Shekhar Ravan.

“Even now, people with vested interests are playing into the hands of rival political parties. They have nothing to do with Babasaheb Ambedkar and his movement. Nor they have anything to do with Manyavar Kanshi Ram’s sacrifice and his mission,” Mayawati remarked. “The truth is that these people are only using their (Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram) names to serve their vested interests,” obviously jittery BSP chief commented in a statement issued by the BSP central office in New Delhi.

Mayawati reminded her cadre that Kanshi Ram wrote a book “Chamcha Yug” wherein he cautioned poor and innocent Dalits, tribals, backward castes and other oppressed lot of our society that they are not a saleable commodity. “Formation of new parties or organisations will further divide their might and led to rule of communal forces over oppressed people,” she warned. Mayawati cited examples of Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Indrajit Saroj who lost elections when they tried luck from other parties.

The newly formed Azad Samaj Party has focused to target a combination of Dalit, Muslims and backward castes as its core support base. “The legitimate rights of minority community, Dalits and backward classes are in jeopardy. Our workers want that they too should get equal share in political power,” Chandrashekhar said in an interaction with media. “Mere speeches will not work to bring change in Bahujan society, one has to work hard to raise voice in their favour. They should get a share in power,” he added.

Azad Samaj Party chief Chandrashekhar Ravan also eyeing on upcoming state assembly elections in 2022. He is trying to consolidate Dalit, OBCs, Muslims under the umbrella of Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha led by strained BJP ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief and a former minister of Yogi’s cabinet, Om Prakash Rajbhar with whom he held long parleys. Rajbhar has influence in the eastern belt of Uttar Pradesh. “Rajbharji is big leader of eastern Uttar Pradesh who supported me when I was in jail. We talked about how to stop the BJP and will take all necessary steps to prevent the BJP from coming back to power,” he added.

The newly formed political party aims consolidation of Dalit, Muslim and OBC (Other backward classes) but that is most difficult task in view of well-established organisation of Bahujan Samaj Party backed by enough financial resources. BSP cadre has witnessed and experienced its prominence during her rule and felt empowered in the administration of public services. Mayawati undoubtedly inherits legacy of Bahujan movement led by her mentor Kanshi Ram and registered pan India political presence on the electoral map whereas Chandra Shekhar Ravan has yet to prove his independent credentials that he is not a political plot for other players.