Dalit icon Bhim army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad reminds Yogi Adityanath

UP polls: Chandra Shekhar Aazad also stood as the leading ministerial candidate. (To file)

New Delhi:

Undaunted by the prospect of taking on Yogi Adiyanath in his stronghold, Azad Samaj party chairman, Chandra Shekhar Aazad said the people of Gorakhpur will repeat history from 1971 when a Uttar Pradesh chief minister lost the Assembly constituency elections.

Confident victory will be his, Mr Aazad, whose party leads the Samajik Parivartan Morcha of 36 small parties, also ran as the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate who is contesting 403 seats in Assembly polls of Uttar Pradesh from next month.

“We have to go back to the story of Gorakhpur… In 1971, a sitting chief minister, TN Singh, was defeated by the people of Gorakhpur. Similarly, Adityanath is the chief minister now and is responsible for the destruction of UP and Gorakhpur in the past five years,” Aazad, commonly known as “Ravan”, told the PTI news agency.

After talks on an alliance with the Samajwadi Party failed, the Azad Samaj Party (ASP) decided to forge a coalition of smaller parties based on its not so good experiences with the larger established parties.

“I wanted to forge an alliance (with the SP) to stop the BJP so that there would be no division between the oppositions. When they didn’t want to give us our share, we refused,” Mr Aazad said. .

He also dismissed allegations of being a vote cutter and clarified about his fallout with the party led by Akhilesh Yadav.

“I say SP are also doing their job and so are we. I have no problem with SP,” said the 36-year-old who has become a prominent Dalit face.

After being dubbed a ‘voice-cutter’ party by some, Mr Aazad shot back: ‘Who stood up for the youth when ‘tower‘ was raining on them for looking for a job, while an injustice was done against the sisters… which raised real people’s issues? »

According to him, the people of Uttar Pradesh saw the SP rule from 2012 to 2017 and the BJP from 2017 to 2022. “After being disappointed with the SP government, people voted for the BJP. So the BJP came to power because of them (SP).” People won’t make the same mistake again, the ASP chief added.

Asked if he had a realistic chance against the incumbent chief minister in his pocket borough of Gorakhpur, Mr Aazad said he was confident in his chances.

“When people can make Prime Minister Narendra Modi an MP when they are not from the state, at least I belong in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

“I will defeat him (Adityanath), we need organizational strength for this and we have it. Their failures are many… inflation, covid management, unemployment recruitment scams, law and order and women’s safety, this government has failed on every count,” he said.

There was mention of Mr. Adityanath fighting from Ayodhya, but then it was ‘changed’ to Gorakhpur Urban. He knew Chandra Shekhar Aazad would argue against him, so he returned to a so-called ‘safe seat’, the ASP chief said.

“If Adityanath had done a good job, why would he return to Gorakhpur? ‘People of Gorakhpur are not afraid of him and will not respect his’Tughlaqi Farmers‘. The people of Gorakhpur will repeat the history of 1971 when they defeated a sitting chief minister,” he said.

The leader of Congress-O, Tribhuvan Narain Singh, was from Varanasi and was sworn in as chief minister in October 1970 without being a member of state legislatures. He contested an indirect vote from Maniram’s headquarters in Gorakhpur in 1971 but lost the contest and was forced to resign.

Asked about the possibility of contesting from a seat in eastern Uttar Pradesh when his influence is seen to be more in the western part of the state, Mr Aazad said it was a “media creation” and that his party had influence everywhere.

Born in Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh, Mr Aazad started the Bhim army in 2014 to fight for the welfare of Dalits. He then formed the Azad Samaj Party, a political front of the Bhim army.

The party contested elections for the first time in the by-election at the seat of Bulandshahr Sadar in 2020. Its candidate Mohammed Yameen lost but got 13,000 votes.

Voting for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, which has 403 members, is scheduled to take place in seven phases from February 10 to March with vote counting to begin on March 10.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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