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I was born a Dalit, but I am not just a Dalit leader, Chandrashekhar Azad says after LS win

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New Delhi: While he was born into the Dalit community, he is, by no means, just a Dalit leader, said Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) President Chandrashekhar Azad, days after his first election victory.

Azad secured over 5 lakh votes from Uttar Pradesh’s Nagina and defeated his nearest rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Om Kumar, by more than 1.5 lakh votes.

In an interview with ThePrint, the newly elected MP said, “I was born a Dalit because there is caste system in this country, but I don’t just fight for Dalits.” The country, he said, has no such community that he has not fought for.

Moreover, it is not the Dalits alone who voted for him, added Azad. “I am the representative of 16 lakh people of my constituency. They belong to all castes and religions, and their responsibility is on my shoulders,” he said.

The media must introspect and not limit political leaders from the Dalit community to their caste. “That is what the media did with Mayawati,” he said. “She said she is the leader of sarva samaj (the entire society), yet she was reduced to being only a Dalit leader,” he said.

Identifying himself as a follower of social reformer and BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s ideology, Azad said, “I am running a movement on the basis of his ideology, and I assure that I work for this country’s pichhde (backwards), Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, and all the men and women of this country like I have been doing.”

Speaking about the Pichhde, Dalit, Alpsankhyak (PDA) experiment of the Samajwadi Party, Azad said that the ‘D’ in that coalition is absent. “There is no ‘D’ (in the party) who has the standing to speak up for the community,” he said. “The INDIA alliance did everything possible to defeat me. They disturbed over a lakh votes in Nagina to defeat me.”

If the INDIA alliance had been sincere in its outreach to different communities, which constitute the Bahujan Samaj, it would have looked for an alternative after the BSP refused to ally with it and entered an alliance with the ASP, he said.

While Azad was in talks with the SP and the Congress for an alliance in Uttar Pradesh before the elections, the talks broke down due to reluctance, especially on the part of the SP, to accommodate him and his party.

Speaking about the BSP’s declining fortunes in the state, Azad said it is no secret that the party, which used to win elections from across the country and formed the government in UP four times, today has one MLA and no MP in the state it originated from.

“Times have changed now. For a very long time, Behenji (Mayawati) nurtured us and encouraged the society to move forward,” he said. “But to fight today’s BJP, you need leaders of today’s thinking, in which it (the BSP) has failed. She has worked a lot during her time, but I want Azad Samaj Party to complete her unfinished project,” he said.

However, he dismissed the narrative of the BSP as the “B team” of the BJP. “If the INDIA alliance felt that the BSP was indeed helping the BJP, it should have looked for an alternative to it, in the form of the ASP. Instead, the INDIA alliance did everything within its power to defeat the ASP,” he said.

Speaking of the issues he wishes to deal with as an MP, Azad said he would like to resolve the minimum support price (MSP) issue of farmers “as soon as possible” and also bring reforms in the police such that police personnel have a fixed 8-hours-a-day and 6-days-a-week working schedule.

He said his party will be fighting elections in all the upcoming by-polls in the country and the 2027 UP legislative assembly elections. The ASP is a broad-based party, said Azad, adding that it should not be seen through a narrow lens as being a UP-based party.

(Edited by Madhurita Goswami)


Also read: ‘Threat’ to Constitution, Dalit-Muslim-OBC alliance — how SP won over Dalits in UP & challenges ahead


 



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