After the Yogi Aditya-nath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh released the Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad, also the prime mover of the Bhim Army who is infamous as ‘Ravan’ is acing up to give a political challenge to the BJP in the 2019 elections by shaking hands with Congress and forging ahead Ambedkar’s ideology.
Bhim Army Maharashtra President Ashok Kamble commented that injustice and harassment are meted against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the country, nonetheless, the mastermind is BJP and RSS. Hence, it is important to defeat BJP in the upcoming elections to save our Constitution.
He continued saying, “Bhim Army Bharat Ekta mission is established in 24 states in India and across the world. Chandra-shekhar Azad rightly called for the defeat of BJP because of their anti-Constitutional stand of their leaders. Some leaders want to make it a Hindu Rashtra. In every state, we will support the Mahagathbandhan that are anti-BJP forces. We are not concerned about a few Dalit leaders that are supporting BJP leaving behind the national interest and forgetting Babasaheb’s ideology.”
According to media reports, Imran Masood, who is UP Congress’s vice president, had immediately called upon Azad at the latter’s village, along with the party MLAs Masood Akhtar and Naresh Saini, in Saharanpur. Although the Bhim Army President denied to AV on Chandrashekhar Azad’s meeting to any Congress leaders.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Amar Sable stated, “People like Azad did not understand the thoughts and teaching of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Congress was the party which had harassed Babasaheb the most when he was alive. Hence, if anyone following Ambedkar’s ideology is supporting Congress, then it is similar to attempting suicide. Babasaheb had once said that Congress is like a burning layer. So it can be said that these people are not moving in the right direction.”
This Dalit leader, who had been lodged in jail since June 2017, under the provisions of the National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly fanning riots in the Shabbirpur area of Saharanpur district, was released from the Saharanpur jail in the wee hours of Friday, which is two months prior to his scheduled release on November 1, 2018. In a statement to the media, the Uttar Pradesh police said that they decided to release him early because of his mother’s request. According to the reports, hundreds of Bhim Army supporters had reached outside the Saharanpur jail on Thursday night to welcome their leader. Soon after his release, Chandrashekhar hit out at the BJP and vowed to throw it out from power in 2019.
However, his release comes at a time when the political scene is becoming increasingly more active, with the parties putting together their heads to work out electoral strategies for the next year’s general elections. It is considered by the analysts that behind the decision to release Azad is a subtle political motive of the BJP-led government in UP to lure the scheduled caste voters, which constitutes more than 50 per cent of the total population in western Uttar Pradesh. However, it seems that the BJP is trying to send a ‘goodwill’ message to Dalits and using Azad as a counter to the dominant party BSP and SP in the state. As after BJP’s defeat in Kairana and Noorpur Lok Sabha bypolls, it is discovered that despite their best efforts the Dalit votes were drifting away.
Congress leader Janardhan Chandurkar said, “Talking about the Dalit community, looking at the ideology of BJP, it seemed a mistake on the part of Bahujan Samaj to cast their vote to the BJP but this time they will not vote for BJP. Secular voters and Bahujan Dalit purogami community will prefer only Congress as they are traditional voters of Congress party. Despite Ramdas Athawale joining NDA, people from Bahujan Community will not vote for BJP or NDA next time.”
The political observer believes that other prominent Dalit leaders such as Ramdas Athawale and Udit Raj who had forgotten the beliefs of Ambedkar and allying with BJP urged this Dalit brigade comprising – Gujarat’s new MLA Jignesh Mevani, and Uttar Pradesh’s Bhim Army chief Chandrashekar Azad to sleeve up their political maneuvering against the government. For the BJP, too, Azad has a slightly “militant political approach”, although an emphasis on the Dalit-Muslim unity can be of some help.
Another challenge lying upon the BJP for the next elections is B.R. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) planning to form an alliance with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to help Dalits, Muslims and the Other Backward Castes that fight for their share of power.
NCP MLC Vidya Chavan asserted, “It is a good thing if all the Dalit leaders are coming together along with Congress. If we want to defeat BJP, everyone should come together. Talking about Ramdas Athawale and Ram Vilas Paswan, they are those leaders who are selfish and shift their base along with the ruling parties. These people are interested only in power. Previously, UPA and now NDA these people only are interested in power. It will prove to be good to come together against BJP in the upcoming days.”
Now, the BJP feels that Azad’s early release will play the role in soothing the hurt sentiments of Dalits, which could benefit the saffron party in the upcoming polls. Azad’s arrest had given him countrywide recognition and led to him being portrayed as an emerging leader of Dalits hence, it would not be wrong to say that the party cannot do away with Ravan, just the way they did with the Ram worshipper.