NEW DELHI: “Dekho Dekho Kaun Aaya, Modi tera baap aya” slogans rent the air at Jantar Mantar in Delhi as Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad got up to speak. And as if on cue he said, “My target is to hoist a blue flag on Red Fort” amidst loud cheers and applause. He made it clear he would be contesting the Lok Sabha elections against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi.

Azad is here for the first time since May 21, 2017 where he addressed a historic rally with warrants out for his arrest by the UP government. He was arrested soon after and incarcerated for 15 months without bail.

He did not give a clear indication of his political plans except for the fact that he wanted to contest Varanasi Lok Sabha against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said he had asked the coalition for just this one seat, but it had not happened till now. “I asked Akhilesh bhaiya about his opposition to reservations in the promotion of Dalit but he did not answer,” he said. He took a jibe at Mulayam Singh Yadav for his remarks that Modi should get another term.

Significantly, Chandrashekhar Azad did not say a word about Mayawati except for mention of Kashiram. He did not speak of the Congress party either, despite speculation after Priyanka Gandhi visited him in hospital.He asked Bhim Army volunteers to march to Varanasi and ensure Modi’s defeat. About the coalition he said, “I wanted it to be so strong that BJP stood no chance of winning, but that has not happened.” He said he wanted the coalition in UP o distribute tickets according to the population proportion of the different communities.

Azad arrived at Jantar Mantar for the Bhim Army’s Hunkar rally after he was detained yet again by the UP government to prevent him from reaching Delhi. Slogans ‘samvidhan bachana hai’, ‘jiske jitna hisedari uski utni bhagedari’, modi teri tanashahi nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi’ were raised by the enthusiastic crowd of Bhim Army workers, a revival of the Dalit organisation that has given sleepless nights to the BJP governments at both the centre and in UP.

The Bhim Army leader said he was not there to win elections but for a ‘social revolution’. “If I wanted to become an MP I would choose a reserved seat, but instead I have decided to contest from Varanasi.” He said he did not want “Dalit Virodhi Manch to be in Parliament and that is why I am contesting from Varanasi.”

Azad spoke at length about Dalit-Muslim unity. He said that the two are not enemies and should work together. He said that the fight again in these elections was between Mandal and Kamandal.

Azad started his speech by remembering BR Ambedkar, Jyotirao Phule, and the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party Kashi Ram. Significantly, no Congress leader was present with only Sharad Yadav amongst the known political faces on the stage. The old socialist leader said he would support Chandrashekhar Azad in whatever he did, and warned the bahujan samaj that if it did not vote wisely this time, there might not be another election.