Members and supporters of the Azad Samaj Party (ASP) of Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad and the Bhim Army (BA) gathered at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Friday July 21 demanding Z-plus security for him.

A co-founder of the BA, Azad was the target of unknown gunmen, who fired shots at him a few days ago. When he was attacked in the Uttar Pradesh (UP) district of Saharanpur, a bullet had grazed the Dalit leader and he was rushed to the nearest hospital.

Leaders and supporters of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) both allies of the ASP also attended the rally on Friday, wearing green caps and red caps respectively, along with thousands of Dalits mostly wearing blue headgear. ‘Jai Bhim’ slogans were raised at the protest held against the deteriorating law and order situation in UP. A CBI probe into the attack on Azad was demanded.

When his life can be endangered this way, how secure is the life of ordinary citizens? Azad asked this question to the media.

The Bhim Army (BA) was founded in 2015 with the purpose of protecting the constitutional rights of citizens, and in opposition to caste-based oppression. The organisation is named after the iconic Dalit leader Bhim Rao Ambedkar and works extensively to provide free education to Dalits in UP.

The BA’s main work revolves around restoring the dignity of the Dalit population of the state, that together with people belonging to Other Backward Castes (OBCs) totals around 60 percent. The BA has about 20,000 members who support the poorest of the poor in society like Dalits and farmers.

Members of the ASP and the BA unconditionally stand by the Indian Constitution and oppose theocracy.

Public gaze had focused on Azad, 36 a lawyer by profession after he had planted a board in his village that read ‘The Great Chamars of Dhadkauli Welcome You.’

When the ‘Upper Caste’ Thakurs had prevented a Dalit groom from riding a horse, BA volunteers had intervened and had safely escorted him to his wedding. Azad was again in the news in 2017 when the UP government had detained him under the National Security Act (NSA) after he led a rally of nearly 10,000 people at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

In 2019, Azad decided to formally participate in electoral politics with the intention of defeating the ruling party at the polls. The BA is against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019. In 2020 when the ASP was launched the event was attended by Congress, RLD, SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders.

Azad Is Not Ravan

Talking to the media, Azad said that he was called Chandrashekhar Azad by his freedom loving father, after the revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad who was born on 23 July in 1906 in UP’s Unnao district. One of his brothers is called Bhagat Singh after yet another freedom fighter and Indian revolutionary.

However, a section of the media had added the word Ravan to his name with the purpose of maligning him. When asked by the popular social media anchor Alok Joshi if his name was Ravan, Azad said no, it was not.

Ravan is the main antagonist of the epic Ramayana. He is seen as an evil character, the ruler of Lanka who abducted Sita, wife of the good king Rama. According to the epic, Sita is eventually rescued. Ravana was defeated in a war with Rama, and slain.

Well Tweeted

With his latest tweets the RLD chief has squashed some of the anxiety that had earlier floated regarding him joining the ruling party! After having attended the two day meet of opposition parties in Bengaluru early this week, Chaudhary declared that his alliance with the SP will continue.

In another tweet, the RLD chief said that the country will emerge stronger after the Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) defeats the ruling party! INDIA is an acronym coined by the Opposition in Bengaluru as a front against the ruling party.

Reporting from the discussions behind closed doors in Bengaluru in which he had participated, Chaudhary said that every leader spoke about people’s issues and the challenges before the newly formed INDIA without focusing on “individuals like Modi ji”!

Shivpal Singh Yadav In Command

Soon after 26 Opposition parties met in Bengaluru to form the INDIA alliance against the ruling party, senior SP leader and national general secretary Shivpal Singh Yadav promised to distribute tickets to all alliance partners to contest the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 in a fair manner.

Yadav promised to strengthen the alliance in order to unite to defeat the ruling party. Part of the alliance with the SP in UP is the Indian National Congress, the RLD, the Apna Dal, the Aam Aadmi Party. The SP is the main opposition in UP.

At an informal meet with the media at his Lucknow residence, Yadav said that he was waiting for SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to return from his trip to the INDIA meet in Bengaluru before saying more about the future plans of the SP. When asked if he will contest the elections, or not, he said early this week that it is too early to say.

Yadav said that Mayawati’s BSP is not part of the INDIA alliance. He regretted that the BSP of today no longer walks in the footsteps of its founder Kanshi Ram and seems closer to the ruling party.

Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar recently left the SP led alliance in UP to join the ruling party. The son of mafia don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari is Abbas Ansari. He is a SBSP member and now in the same camp as the UP chief minister who has vowed to turn to dust all musclemen in the state.

What is the future of Abbas Ansari then? Will the turncoat Ansari get a ticket from the ruling party to contest the Lok Sabha elections?