Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said Saturday that his political outfit – the Azad Samaj Party – would not ally with the Samajwadi Party for next month’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav “does not want the support of Dalits”, Mr Azad told reporters.
“Yesterday Akhileshji humiliated us… yesterday Akhileshji humiliated the bahujan samaj,” Chandrashekhar Azad said, a day after meeting the Samajwadi Party chief to discuss seat-sharing.
Sources have told NDTV Akhilesh Yadav offered the Azad Samaj Party three seats, but Chandrashekhar Azad was asking for 10 seats and a middle ground could not be established.
Mr Azad and Mr Yadav were understood yesterday to have a broad agreement in place to contest these polls together, with the Bhim Army chief likely to stand from his stronghold in Saharanpur.
In November Mr Azad told NDTV that he had decided to contest the UP election against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath; “I will not let Yogi win, no matter what happens,” he said.
“I will appeal to other opposition parties to also support me against Yogi… he has troubled the public for four-and-a-half years,” Chandrashekhar Azad said, adding (then) that he wanted an alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party because “we don’t want bahujan votes to be divided”.
Chandrashekhar Azad launched his Azad Samaj Party in March 2020, on the birth anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram. He contested two seats in the Bihar election but failed to win either.
Meanwhile, ahead of the UP election (the seven-phase poll begins February 10), Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as perhaps the biggest challenger to the ruling BJP.
Mr Yadav has spurned help from larger parties like the Congress and stitched together a “rainbow” alliance of regional outfits, such as Omprakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (which signed up with the Samajwadi Party last year) and Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal.
He has also poached BJP leaders with considerable influence over the OBC vote base, including (so far) two ministers in Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, who joined his party yesterday.
In 2017 the BJP’s strategy was to win over the non-Yadav OBC castes given Mr Yadav’s most loyal voters are seen to be Yadavs and Muslims. This time round, the Samajwadi Party leader’s game-plan is to emulate the success by pulling in the non-Yadav OBC leaders.
Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV in November that a “pincer” movement of angry in the west and his “rainbow” alliance in the east would “wipe out the BJP” in this election.
UP will vote in seven phases from February 10, with results due exactly one month later – March 10.