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No tie-up with SP even if given 100 seats: Chandrashekhar Azad

Among constituencies the Azad Samaj Party (ASP) will contest the election from are Maniharan, Saharanpur Dehat, Muzaffarnagar City, Hapur, Agra South, Chandauli, Khurja and Meerut Cantt.

Written by Abhinav Rajput | Greater Noida |
Updated: January 19, 2022 5:20:22 am
Azad Samaj party chief Chandrashekhar Azad addresses media in Greater Noida on Tuesday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, whose pre-poll alliance with Samajwadi Party fell through, on Tuesday said that his party will contest the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election from 33 seats.

Among constituencies the Azad Samaj Party (ASP) will contest the election from are Maniharan, Saharanpur Dehat, Muzaffarnagar City, Hapur, Agra South, Chandauli, Khurja and Meerut Cantt. “These are mostly seats on which there were alliance talks happening as the party wanted to contest on at least 25 seats… as election progresses, the party will declare more number of seats that it would be contesting,” Azad said, addressing a press briefing in Greater Noida.

Azad made the statement days after he announced a fall-out with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party over seat-sharing in Uttar Pradesh. Without naming Yadav or the SP, Azad said that there were discussions for 25 seats, but the assurance was not followed up on. “I was given assurance that there would no cheating… but now it’s about honour… even if they call and give a hundred seats, we would not enter into an alliance with them,” he said.

Earlier, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav had said that he held talks to ensure that two seats — Rampur Maniharan and Ghaziabad — were set aside for the ASP. “Both seats were given. After that, he (Azad) called someone and then told me that he will not fight the elections. He said his sangathan (organisation) was against it…” the SP chief had said.

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The Bhim Army leader said that he was open to forming an alliance with other parties. He also denied speculation about a possible tie-up with the Congress, but hinted at an impending announcement and one can expect “something from a bigger stage by evening”. Options are open for other small parties, Azad said.

On theories that he may directly fight Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur, Azad said that the election in the constituency – a stronghold for the CM – was in the later phases and the party will take a decision then.

Gorakhpur (Urban) will vote in the sixth phase on March 3.

Azad spoke about the ASP’s election strategy and said that it will field 30 per cent Dalit candidates, 50 per cent from backward classes and others from both Hindu and Muslim communities.

“I never bowed down when I was in jail for sixteen months …my fear was that if due to a divided opposition, BJP comes to power again, then the loss would not be mine but of lakhs of innocent people like me,” he said. Azad spent over a year in jail for alleged involvement in caste-related violence in UP’s Saharanpur in 2017.

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