Recently out of jail following his incarceration in connection with the agitations over demolition of Ravidas Temple in Delhi, Chandrashekhar has written an open letter to Mayawati asking her to join him in a discussion over how to strengthen the Bahujan movement so that a befitting reply can be given to the incumbent government for its alleged anti-Dalit policies.
“I believe the key to the problems of contemporary India is only with the Bahujan society. If there is a problem, we have to look within. It is my request that we must keep aside all our differences and sit together for deliberations. Because only discussions and deliberations can only open a new way. …given that you are a member of the core team of Honourable Kanshiram, your experience is of importance to us. We hope that you will participate in this discussion,” Chandrashekhar has said in the letter.
The young Dalit leader from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh has had an uncomfortable relationship with Mayawati. While Chandrashekhar has often called her his “Bua” (Aunt) and even expressed his desire to see her as PM, Mayawati has accused him of being stooge of the BJP who is misleading Dalits.
In fact, Chandrashekhar’s rise following Dalit agitations in Saharanpur in the wake of clashes between Thakurs and members of his community in 2017 has been often touted as a threat to Mayawati’s politics which has over the years tried to broaden its social base by including the upper caste.
In his letter, Chandrashekhar has acknowledged the rising influence of the BJP across India and emphasised on the need to arrest the slide of Bahujan politics. “Between 2014 and 2019, BJP has only become stronger. Even in the bastion of Bahujan politics, Uttar Pradesh, BJP has returned. It’s a difficult phase for Bahujan politics. Under the BJP, atrocities have been committed against the Bahujan community and their rights have been snatched. Reservation is being attacked,” Chandrashekhar has said in the letter.
He has said that in such a time, the country is looking at Bahujan politics with hope. “But for political reasons this stream of Bahujan politics is drying up,” Chandrashekhar has said.
The Bhim Army outreach comes at a time when the BSP is at one of its lowest ebbs in electoral politics. It has just 10 seats in UP despite a historic alliance with SP and merely 18 seats in UP Assembly.