Dalit group led by Chandrashekhar Azad likely to join hands with Samajwadi Party

The SP played down the realignment but welcomed all those who ‘stands’ for social justice and democracy

November 30, 2022 10:08 pm | Updated December 01, 2022 12:52 am IST - Lucknow

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has not tasted any electoral success in Uttar Pradesh but is considered to enjoy huge support among the Dalit population in the western part of Uttar Pradesh. File

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has not tasted any electoral success in Uttar Pradesh but is considered to enjoy huge support among the Dalit population in the western part of Uttar Pradesh. File | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Days ahead of the byelections in Mainpuri Lok Sabha and on two Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, the support extended by the Azad Samaj Party to the Samajwadi Party (SP) clearly hints that the Dalit group is likely to join hands with the SP before the 2024 General elections.

Azad Samaj Party founder Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has campaigned for Madan Bhaiya, the candidate of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which is an alliance partner of SP, in Khatauli. The Azad Samaj Party has also stood by SP candidate Asim Raza, a close aide of Azam Khan, in Rampur Sadar.

Recently while campaigning with Mr. Ravan in Khatauli, RLD chief and Rajya Sabha MP Jayant Chaudhary had said, “Our partnership will not be only for Khatauli, but it will demolish all calculations from Khatauli to Delhi.”

The realignment in the Opposition fold in Uttar Pradesh is seen as a win-win deal for both the SP and the Dalit group. This is because despite garnering a 32% vote share in the 2022 Assembly election, the SP-led alliance was way short of getting a majority in the State Assembly. The SP has realised it needs to form a larger coalition before the next General election to defeat the BJP. Moreover, in the Assembly election, Mr. Ravan got 7,453 votes while contesting against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur seat and also lost the security deposit.

“Mr. Ravan has some influence in pockets of western Uttar Pradesh, which might help the Opposition camp but the joining of the Dalit group with the SP-led alliance is not going to have a major impact in the State as the difference in vote share between the BJP and the Opposition is huge,” said Shashi Kant Pandey, a political scientist who teaches in Central University, Lucknow.

Mr. Ravan, who founded Bhim Army in 2014, and later the political front Azad Samaj Party on March 15, 2020, has not tasted any electoral success in Uttar Pradesh but is considered to enjoy huge support among the Dalit population in the western part of the State. In 2022 polls, after announcing a tie-up with the SP, he backtracked alleging that the SP did not want Dalits in the alliance but just wanted their votes. The Dalit community constitutes roughly 21% of the State’s population.

The SP said it welcomed all those who stood for social justice and democracy. “Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan was included in the 2022 Assembly election alliance formation by the SP, but somehow the alliance did not materialise. Our stand from the beginning is clear, we welcome all such groups which stand for social justice and democracy,” said Ameeque Jamai, national spokesperson of the SP.  

Neutralising BJP

The newfound endearment between the SP-led camp and the Dalit group is also due to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) factor. Despite reaching out to the Dalit voters and pushing for “backward” sections unity ahead of the Assembly election, the SP failed to make any major dent in the Dalit vote base of the BSP. The latter had got 12.8% vote share in the election.

Analysts believe the SP-led alliance hopes the Dalit group would help it in countering the BSP and building a narrative to its advantage among the Dalit electorate of the State. “As Mayawati is aggressively trying to corner the SP, the Bhim Army might help the main Opposition party to make some inroads in Dalit votes of U.P.,” said Sumit Kumar, a social scientist

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