Dalit star’s po­lit­i­cal pitch

The Asian Age - - Edit -

If the ar­rest of UP’s young dalit mil­i­tant leader Chan­drashekhar Azad “Ra­van” in June 2017, af­ter a hunt through sev­eral states, had cre­ated a sen­sa­tion of sorts, the free­ing of the 30- year- old lawyer and Bhim Sena founder from prison in the early hours of Fri­day was also some­what dra­matic. The re­lease at 2.30 am was re­port­edly at­tended by hun­dreds of young dal­its from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. It is likely to be po­lit­i­cally im­pact­ful in the elec­tion sea­son.

Azad rose to promi­nence in early 2017 af­ter the dal­its of Sa­ha­ran­pur in western UP re­sisted a cam­paign of phys­i­cal assaults by an up­per- caste group, which ap­peared to have the pa­tron­age of the rul­ing party. To pub­li­cise his cause he had ad­dressed a gath­er­ing of some one lakh peo­ple in New Delhi.

Af­ter he was ar­rested from Dal­housie in Hi­machal Pradesh, the Bhim Sena founder was granted bail, but the UP gov­ern­ment booked him un­der the dra­co­nian Na­tional Se­cu­rity Act in early Novem­ber of 2017 un­der which de­ten­tion for a year is per­mit­ted with­out the fram­ing of charges. This was seen as a one- sided act, es­pe­cially among dal­its, as the other side was not pro­ceeded against.

A month short of a year, the state gov­ern­ment has re­leased the young mil­i­tant, pre­sum­ably on the as­sump­tion that he would queer the po­lit­i­cal pitch for BSP supremo Mayawati, with whom Azad is sup­posed to be at odds. But his pub­lic com­ments ap­pear to dis­pel this no­tion. He has ag­gres­sively an­nounced his in­ten­tion to cam­paign for the de­feat of the BJP — a party he says is anti- dalit — in the up­com­ing elec­tions in sev­eral states and in the next Lok Sabha poll.

This is ex­pected to put pres­sure on the BSP and the Congress to reach an elu­sive elec­toral un­der­stand­ing in Mad­hya Pradesh, Ch­hat­tis­garh, Ra­jasthan and UP.

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