Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Wednesday said he will not contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. Azad’s statement was a U-turn from his decision last month to contest against the prime minister.
“I have decided not to contest from Varanasi because I do not want that my decision should strengthen the Bharatiya Janata Party in any way,” Azad said, according to PTI. “We all want to defeat the BJP.”
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had on Monday claimed that Azad was a BJP agent and was dividing the Dalit vote. In response, Azad said on Wednesday: “Our own people are calling us agents of the BJP, but I still want her to become prime minister.”
The Bhim Army chief also said his group will support the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance if it fields BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra from the Varanasi seat. He added that if the alliance fields Mishra, a Brahmin, from Varanasi, it will also be able to get some upper-caste votes.
Earlier, Azad had accused Mishra of misleading Mayawati and conspiring against his group.
On Sunday, Azad had claimed that his outfit and not the Bahujan Samaj Party, was the true well-wisher of Dalits.
The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23. The election in Varanasi will be held on the last day, May 19.
The Bhim Army is a Dalit rights organisation active in western Uttar Pradesh. Azad had first risen to prominence when he was arrested in connection with caste violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur in 2017, after which he was booked under the National Security Act. He was released in September 2018.