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Mayawati blocked the road for me, is turning BSP into family outfit, says Bhim Army chief Aazad

In an interview to ThePrint, Bhim Army chief discusses plans on possible tie-up of SP, RLD & his party to take on BJP in UP. Coalition can take shape in civic polls itself, he adds.

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Chhutmalpur (Uttar Pradesh): Ruling out any tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad said that Mayawati has turned the BSP into a ‘family outfit’, which is turning out to be detrimental for her party.  

In an interview to ThePrint Thursday, Aazad also discussed his plans on a possible tie-up involving the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and his Azad Samaj Party (ASP) and how a larger alliance of “farmers and labourers” will prove to be a challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in western Uttar Pradesh.

Buoyed by the result of the Khatauli assembly bypoll where the SP-RLD candidate Madan Bhaiyya, supported by the ASP, defeated the BJP, which had won in 2017 and 2022, Aazad said that the larger coalition can win at least 19 Lok Sabha seats in western UP. The western UP region comprises 29 Lok Sabha seats, out of which the BJP currently holds 20.

Asked about his role in the SP-RLD coalition, Aazad said that talks for formalisation of a coalition are on with RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary for the past eight months and that he will try to stop the BJP from coming to power in the 2024 LS polls. 

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On Mayawati & coalition with BSP

Ruling out any coalition with the BSP in near future, Aazad said that while he tried to ally with the party several times, Mayawati ‘blocked all roads for him’.

“I tried in 2022. I am much younger to her and she has struggled more. I would have given all in my efforts to the struggle but she blocked the road for me. What could I have done? I have tried many times, but now, I am committed to the ASP striving to take it forward and form a political power of bahujan samaj (the combined population of SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims and other minorities) soon,” he said, adding that he was not harming the BSP as alleged by some people.

“You mentioned that the BSP was reduced to one seat (in UP). I think that I am not responsible for that. Some people say that I am harming the BSP, but I tell them that I am not required, and Behenji herself is enough for that. I tried that the organisation (BSP), which was formed due to the struggle of great leaders, should prosper but she has turned it into a family outfit. If their policies are failing, then they should analyse them, rather than abusing me or denying the struggle of the Bhim Army. You need to stand with people whom you take votes from. Over the last five elections, have you seen behenji in any struggle?” he asked. 

Khatauli win & the ‘need to stop BJP’

The Jat community, which forms the major support base of the RLD, dominates in Mathura, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut Lok Sabha seats in western UP. The Dalit community among whom the ASP enjoys support, makes up 20 per cent of the population of the entire state, according to the 2011 census. In western UP, the Dalit population is considered to be almost five times the Jat population — that is over 10 per cent.

Aazad said that after the Khatauli bypoll result, political observers across India and UP said that had this coalition (SP-RLD-ASP) happened during the UP polls, a coalition government would have been in power rather than the BJP government getting a majority in the second term.

Several assembly seats were lost by a thin margin and the BJP benefited because the opposition was disunited, he added.

“Today the government is conspiring to continuously finish the little rights people have… Parents make children study so that they can get government jobs but today, people are aggrieved and they want freedom from this government. Because the coalition was disunited, BJP benefited (in 2022). But now, we won’t give them (BJP) any chance to benefit again,” he said.

“There are fewer government jobs, reservations are being ended and there is injustice against the weaker sections like Dalits, Muslims, Adivasis and backward classes. Traders, farmers and women are facing problems. Our organisation (Bhim Army) and party will try to stop this and take the BJP’s wrong policies to the people so that the public can be saved from false promises and politics of polarisation. My role will be to stop the BJP from coming to power in 2024.” 

He said that while the (SP-RLD-ASP) coalition can win 19 Lok Sabha seats in western UP, they (coalition constituents) are working to see how they can win the other seats as well.

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Coalition talks with SP-RLD 

Aazad said that talks were on between him and RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary for the past seven-eight months (for ASP’s entry into the alliance), after the loss in UP.

The Bhim Army chief said that he spoke to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, too, in Rampur where he campaigned for SP candidate Asim Raja in the bypoll held on 5 December, along with those of Khatauli and Mainpuri.

Hopeful that the coalition constituents will move forward with respect towards each other and will help pull down the BJP from UP in the Lok Sabha, Aazad said, “We spoke at length when I met him (Akhilesh) in Rampur. In Mainpuri too, our team worked hard. I hope that in future, we will understand each other’s role and how important the coalition is in today’s scenario and the needs of each other.” 

In January, the situation was different with Aazad angrily saying the SP only wanted Dalit votes but not their leaders. He had alleged that there was no response from Akhilesh yet he was in Lucknow for two days for final talks on seat-sharing which reportedly marked the end of the discussions.

Asked about the SP’s approach towards the alliance, Aazad said: “I had attempted to form a coalition (in assembly polls) to help the people get rid of the dictatorship and the wrong policies of the BJP but for some reasons, it did not because coalitions are never permanent. There may be several reasons, I have recently said in an interview that when I hold talks again, I may speak about the reasons which led to the misunderstanding…”

When asked about a possibility of the coalition repeating itself in the municipal elections likely to be held early next year, Aazad said the coordination committee was mulling names on the candidates which it thinks can win the elections.

Municipal elections to choose mayors of 17 Municipal Corporations, heads of 200 Municipal Corporations, and 546 Nagar Panchayats are likely to be held early next year even as the matter of OBC reservation in the urban local body seats is currently being heard by a Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.

“As soon as the order of the Allahabad High Court comes on [OBC] reservation, the seats on which discussions are happening, will be allotted. We will try to snatch the 14 municipal corporation seats from BJP where it is in power and raise issues of sanitation, electricity, water, house tax, etc.  Last municipal election took place in one phase. Now, there are talks of multi-phase polling, which makes it clear that the BJP wants to misuse the government machinery. The coalition will try to stop it,” he said.

Also Read: Message for Modi & Shah? Why Yogi is silent on being kept out of BJP parliamentary board

‘Will fight Lok Sabha polls if coalition committee asks me to’

As for the next general election, Aazad said that he would contest if the committee of alliance constituents, formed to take decision on formalising the coalition, directs him to.

Aazad was commenting on RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary’s remark — at a joint rally in November in Khatauli — that “their coalition was not limited to Khatauli win but they will spoil the permutations in Delhi too.”

“There is a committee above me, which will take the final call on the coalition, because I am just a worker. I will follow the decision of the coalition committee. It was the direction of the coalition that we needed to go from village to village and work hard (in Khatauli). We accepted it, I have only told you about the permutations for 2024,” he said.

“If I am told to fight an election, I will, and if not, I won’t. We will follow the direction of the committee because the organisation is bigger than a person and a committee of the organisation is bigger… And I think that the biggest need for the country is to stop the dictatorial government, which is dividing the people… In one year, you will see a big change,” he claimed.

(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)

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