Days after announcing his decision to challenge Prime Minister Modi in Varanasi, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad says his sole aim is to defeat the BJP in this election. In an interview with Preetha Nair, Azad also scotched rumours of an alliance with Congress. Excerpts:
What’s behind your decision to take on Modi in Varanasi?
Modi is anti-Dalit, his government’s policies have ruined the country. I’ll make sure he’s not re-elected to the Lok Sabha. I have requested the SP-BSP-RLD grand alliance to support me in Varanasi to defeat the PM and send him back to Gujarat. We’ve taken a pledge to defeat the BJP.
But you’d said the Bhim Army wouldn’t be in the fray….
During our rally in Meerut, we were arrested though we had permission…our members were beaten up and detained. If Modi returns to power, the Bahujan will be at the receiving end. It will sound a death-knell for all things constitutional. Our rights will be curtailed. Dalits will teach him a lesson. Uttar Pradesh is a sacred land. We urge all parties to support us.
Priyanka Gandhi’s meeting with you has fuelled speculation….
Priyanka Gandhi visited me in hospital out of concern and pledged her support in our fight against Modi. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of her visit. We didn’t discuss politics.
What if Congress approaches you?
I won’t ally with the Congress at any cost. My primary aim is to defeat the BJP…we’ll support parties fighting them. I’m working towards fulfilling Ambedkar’s vision. My aim is to empower the Bahujan.
But if you contest, won’t it become tri-cornered and...