Wearing black aviators, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad waved from an SUV as the roadshow passed through Bulandshahr’s Kala Aam area on Sunday.
This was Azad’s second show of strength in support of Haji Yamin, the Azad Samaj Party candidate for the bypoll to Bulandshahr Sadar on November 3.
Yamin is up against the BJP’s Usha Sirohi, wife of former MLA Virendra Singh Sirohi whose death necessitated the bypoll, BSP’s nominee Mohammad Yunus, Congress leader Sushil Chaudhary and Praveen Singh from the RLD, which is in alliance with the SP.
Azad Samaj Party to contest Bulandshahr bypoll| At rally for party nominee, Chandrashekhar Azad raises Hathras incident
For a section of voters, the Azad Samaj Party has emerged as a better alternative to the BSP. BSP supremo Mayawati’s recent remark that her party would back anyone, including the BJP, to ensure the defeat of SP candidates in the upcoming MLC elections in Uttar Pradesh, has also added to the resentment against BSP.
Arvind Kumar, a local resident from the Jatav community, said, “What can we say, Mayawati is kathputli (puppet) of Modi. She will do their bidding and has abandoned the true cause of Dalits. It became clearer after what she said. ASP is hope for us now. There is a new sense of energy and Azad will emerge as the true leader.”
Azad’s roadshow on Sunday saw participation of hundreds of supporters chanting Jai Bhim along the way.
With campaigning coming to a close, Mayawati has not held a single rally or public meeting in Bulandshahr.
The Hathras gangrape incident has emerged as a key talking point.
“When our sister was raped and murdered, it was Azad who went to meet the family. It was he who asked for the family’s security and he has been helping them out. BSP remains invisible and Mayawati did not even visit the village once. Slowly, people are forgetting BSP,” said Prashant Kumar, a student who will be voting for the first time in this bypoll.
Before BJP’s Sirohi won the seat in the 2017 state polls, it was represented by the BSP’s Mohd Aleem Khan for two consecutive terms.
Some said they are supporting BSP not because of Mayawati but because of the candidate.
“Some of us are supporting Yunus bhai since he is an honest man. There are questions the BSP needs to answer but he has support among local residents and he is one of us. Azad is a new person. He doesn’t know the area and his party perhaps doesn’t understand our issues. There is a lot of show, but can they handle core issues?” said Sahil Khan, a parking ticket attendant.
Most upper caste Hindu voters are confident of a BJP victory and feel the “Modi-Yogi combination” has brought development.
The seat is primarily an urban constituency with a major part of residents from the businessmen and trader community.
Vikas Saini, who runs an automotive repair shop in Kala Aam, admitted that business has been slow, but added that “it is wrong to blame a party for Covid”. “The traditional vote to BJP will stay since it is Modi we are voting for. We are assured that under him and Yogi Adityanath, things will get better. Leaders like Azad don’t have a policy vision.”
RLD has never represented the seat and Chaudhary has been holding rallies and public meetings in Western UP, focusing on the recent farm Bills brought by the Centre. RLD will be looking to gain after a rout in the 2017 UP elections. The SP-RLD alliance will also be looking to gauge prospects of an Opposition alliance after the BSP has made its stand against SP clear.
Star campaigner Sachin Pilot canvassed for the Congress candidate recently, launching an attack on the communal politics of the regional parties.
The RLD candidate had fought on a Congress ticket in the 1991 Assembly elections, but joined RLD two years later.
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