Azad Samaj Party on Monday announced a candidate for the upcoming UP Assembly bypolls. This will be the first election for Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad’s newly formed party since its inception in March.
“Through Bhim Army, we will be raising our voices outside the House. Now, we want to be inside the House. When our people win, they will be in a position to raise our voices in a way that can impact policymaking as well,” Chandrashekhar Azad told The Indian Express.
“Presently, especially in UP, departments are being destroyed and Bills are being passed because there are not enough numbers to oppose it. It is an undeclared emergency,” he added.
Azad Samaj Party fielded Bhim Army member Haji Yamin, who joined the party last month, from Bulandshahr Sadar seat. The seat was represented by BJP’s Veerendra Singh Sirohi, who died in March. Sirohi was a three-time MLA and had served as cabinet minister during Mayawati’s regime in 1997.
Testing the poll waters in state
The decision of Azad’s newly formed party to take the poll plunge in the Assembly bypolls has to do with testing its political relevance ahead of the 2022 elections in the state as SP, BSP and Congress desperately try to take the Opposition space. The Azad Samaj Party will be looking to make a dent in Dalit and minority votes, especially after Mayawati’s refusal to associate with the Bhim Army chief.
Bypolls are due in Suar and Malhani seats, which had been won by the SP in 2017, along with Bulandshahr, Naugawan Sadat, Tundla, Ghatampur, Bangarmau and Deoria — which were won by the BJP. The by-elections are likely to be held along with Bihar Assembly polls. The other major parties in UP are yet to announce their candidates for these seats.
Azad Samaj Party is looking to adopt an aggressive strategy in the polls. “We will take feedback from party workers in booth committees and take a call on placing candidates for the other seven seats. We will show our strength in these elections. After that, we will get another chance in the panchayat elections. Our party members will go to every village and block and it will help us identify honest and hardworking candidates. This will give us a good base for the Vidhan Sabha elections,” Azad said.
These bypolls amid the pandemic will also be seen as a litmus test for the ruling party, as its six incumbent seats are up for polls. The SP is likely to contest all eight seats while the Congress has set up district-wise committees for each seat. The BSP is yet to announce candidates for the elections.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Bhim Army had appealed to BSP chief Mayawati to consolidate Dalit representation. Mayawati had then denied any association with Azad, stating there was no “bua-bhatija” relationship.
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