Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Tuesday said that his party will contest the upcoming panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh, reported PTI.

The local body elections in the state will be held around March next year, according to Amar Ujala.

Azad made the announcement during a visit to Azamgarh district in the state, where he met the district magistrate and inquired about the alleged delay in providing assistance to the family of a Dalit village head. Satyamev was shot dead allegedly by members of the upper caste Thakur community in August.

“Before the 2022 Assembly polls, the Azad Samaj Party will field candidates in the panchayat elections,” the Bhim Army chief said. He accused the Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government of “settling scores” with the Opposition, and expressed his concern over the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh.

During his visit, Azad allegedly got into a heated exchange with the Uttar Pradesh Police before he could meet the district magistrate. “People should be given due respect in a democracy,” the Bhim Army chief said. “The treatment meted out to me here proves that officials are threatening people.”

Azad also criticised the central government and said the Centre cancelled the winter session of Parliament on the pretext of coronavirus, while Union Home Minister Amit Shah was taking part in road shows and rallies in West Bengal. “The government is doing this to avoid questions from the opposition as it does not have answers,” Azad alleged.

Visuals from Shah’s rallies in the state, which goes to polls next year, showed very little to no regard of physical distancing norms among his supporters, many of whom did not wear masks.