UP elections: Bhim Army's Chandrashekhar Azad to contest against Yogi
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has decided to contest against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the upcoming assembly elections in the state from the Gorakhpur Sadar seat. The announcement was made by the Azad Samaj Party (ASP), headed by Azad. This comes days after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced Adityanath's candidature from his home turf Gorakhpur.
Why does this story matter?
The development is significant as Yogi Adityanath is contesting state assembly polls for the first time in his political career. Gorakhpur is considered to be a bastion of Yogi Adityanath, who has been an MP from there since 1998 until he became the UP CM in 2017. Present MLA from BJP Radha Mohan Das Agarwal has been winning the Gorakhpur Sadar seat since 2002.
Azad Samaj Party's official announcement
Azad had earlier said he will contest against Yogi
Azad had been talking about contesting against Yogi Adityanath since last year. "It is not important for me to win a place in the UP assembly. It is important for me that Yogi Adityanath should not get to be in the assembly," he had said. "So, I will contest wherever he (Yogi Adityanath) is contesting." This will be Azad's first electoral fight.
Who is Chandrashekhar Azad?
Azad (34) is a firebrand Dalit leader from UP's Saharanpur. He rose to fame during clashes between Dalits and "upper-caste" Thakurs in Saharanpur in May 2017. Following the clashes, the UP police arrested him under the stringent National Security Act. Even though the Allahabad High Court granted him bail, he continued to languish in jail and was released in September 2018 after 16 months.
Will Azad be able to challenge Yogi?
Azad's Bhim Army and the ASP reportedly have no organizational base in the Gorakhpur Sadar constituency. It is believed that Adityanath will face the main electoral challenge from the yet-to-be-announced SP candidate. Another advantage for Adityanath is that the Gorakhpur Sadar seat has been with the BJP continuously since 1989 except for once when it was won by the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha.
Azad ruled out alliance with SP
Last week, Azad ruled out the possibility of any alliance with the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming assembly polls. He had also met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, but the meeting failed to yield any desired result due to some disagreements over seat-sharing. While Yadav said he had given two seats to the ASP, Azad claimed the former didn't keep his word of 25 seats.
Will contest on 33 seats: Azad
Meanwhile, Azad on Tuesday announced that his party would contest 33 assembly seats in this election. These include Maniharan, Saharanpur Dehat, Muzaffarnagar City, Hapur, Agra South, Chandauli, Khurja, and Meerut Cantt. These are mostly the seats on which alliance talks were going on, Azad said. "As the election progresses, the party will declare more number of seats that it would be contesting."