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Will contest against CM Yogi, even from Ayodhya, says Bhim Army & ASP’s Chandra Shekhar Aazad

Activist adds his Azad Samaj Party will only field Dalits, Muslims and backward castes candidates, and is willing to ally with any big party except BJP.

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Lucknow: Bhim Army chief and Azad Samaj Party (ASP) president Chandra Shekhar Aazad will contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath — from whichever constituency the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader chooses to fight.

Speaking to ThePrint, Aazad said his primary aim is to defeat Adityanath at any rate, adding that he is willing to fight from the Ayodhya Vidhan Sabha seat. There has been speculation that the CM, who is currently a member of the Legislative Council, could contest from Ayodhya.

“It is important for me that Yogi Adityanath should not get to be in the assembly. So I will contest from wherever he is contesting,” Aazad said.

“The Adityanath government has failed badly in the past four and a half years. Atrocities against Dalits and Muslims have increased in the state under Yogi Adityanath. I want to defeat him in the polls by contesting against him,” he added.

The CM has said he is ready to fight assembly elections if the party leadership wants him to, which has triggered talk that he will contest the polls set to take place early next year.

Aazad began activism in 2015 when he started the Bhim Army, a Dalit rights organisation, as a reaction to the discrimination and caste-based violence faced by students of the community. He formed his own party in March 2020 on the birth anniversary of late Kanshi Ram, founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Also read: This is BJP’s new caste coalition for 2022 UP polls — the 7 parties & its members

No tickets for upper castes

Speaking about his party’s strategy for the UP elections, Aazad said the ASP will only field Dalits, Muslims or backward caste candidates, adding that not a single upper caste person will be fielded.

Hum achhoot hain, unki aawaz uthate hain. Toh ticket bhi unhe denge, aur kisi ko kyun denge? (We are ‘untouchables’, we raise their voice… So why would we give tickets to anyone else?)” he said.

The party’s strategy is to field Dalit candidates not only on reserved seats, but also on general seats, Aazad added.

Alliance not finalised yet

Speaking about alliances, Aazad said he is ready to ally with any big party other than the BJP if it is willing to give equal respect to his newly-formed ASP. However, nothing has been finalised as of now.

Aazad said many of his party workers want an alliance with the BSP but “Behenji (Mayawati) has not given any green signal”.

Earlier, Aazad had met Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief O.P. Rajbhar twice to enter the latter’s Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha (a coalition of smaller parties). However, Rajbhar has since allied with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.

Aazad said if an alliance isn’t arrived at soon, then his party will contest alone on all 403 seats, adding that the party may announce candidates on 150 seats over the next fortnight. 

He also said the ASP now has an organisational base in all 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh, with several party workers wanting to contest elections.

Last month, Aazad grabbed attention when he managed to reach Lakhimpur Kheri, where farmers were allegedly killed by a convoy including Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra, even as other leaders including Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav were detained on their way.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: UP 2022 in focus, Bhim Army’s Aazad is cycling across state to ‘unite exploited’, expand base


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