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Bhim Army won’t support SP-BSP alliance in UP till Akhilesh clears stand on quota

Dalit outfit wants Akhilesh to promise support in writing, says action necessary as SP had vehemently opposed reservation in promotion bill in 2012.

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New Delhi: The Bhim Army, an upcoming Dalit outfit, Friday said it will back the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) alliance in Uttar Pradesh only after the SP makes its stand clear on reservation in promotions for SCs and STs in government jobs.

Speaking at a press conference in the national capital, party head Chandrasekhar Azad said SP chief Akhilesh Yadav will have to give in writing that his party supports the bill.

“It’s an important decision that will affect us for five years,” Azad said. “Baba saheb (Bhim Rao Ambedkar) has given us the right to vote to free us from slavery. We won’t give to anybody just like that. We will ask questions and only if we are sure that our rights will be protected will we vote.”

The Bhim Army chief said his party’s stand has been necessitated as the SP had in 2012 opposed the reservation in promotions.

“It was an SP MP who had torn the bill in the Lok Sabha when the Congress was trying to move it for consideration of the House,” he said.

Azad’s Bhim Army has been taking cudgels on behalf of Dalits and other marginalised sections since the outfit was formed in 2016.

Also read: After SP-BSP alliance, Congress to contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats alone in Uttar Pradesh

Also wants clarification on Mulayam’s Modi remarks

Besides wanting to know the SP’s stand on the bill, the Bhim Army leader urged Akhilesh to explain what his father and senior SP leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, meant when he recently said in the Lok Sabha that he wanted Narendra Modi to become the PM again.

“Akhilesh bhai will have to make the SP’s stand clear on Mulayamji’s statement. If they want to make Narendra Modi the PM, why should we vote for him?” Azad questioned.

The Bhim Army chief further said the outfit will either put up or support candidates against Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he contests from Uttar Pradesh, and Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani.

“Modi is a weak PM and we don’t want such a weak PM,” he said. “So, we have decided that if Modi contests from UP we will put up a candidate against him.”

As for Irani, Azad held her responsible for Rohith Vemula’s death. “If need be we will support a strong candidate against her but won’t let her win,” he said.

Also read: Mulayam Singh Yadav to contest from Samajwadi Party stronghold Mainpuri

‘Arm licence for the poor, revival of Chamar regiment ‘

Azad also listed his party’s demands Friday. Among other things, the Dalit outfit wants reservations in the higher judiciary, arms license for the poor to protect themselves and better work facilities for sewer workers.

“We want a total ban on manual scavenging,” Azad said. “If somebody is forced to go inside a manhole, a police complaint will have to be filed against the person exerting the pressure.”

The Bhim Army also wants the government to revive the ‘Chamar Regiment’, which was formed by the British in 1943. “It is said that the regiment was disbanded in 1946 after its soldiers joined Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army. We want the regiment to be revived again,” Azad said.

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