Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has launched a new party—the Azad Samaj Party. In an interview to Preetha Nair, Azad explains why he thinks his party will be an alternative to the Bahujan Samaj Party. Excepts:
The Bhim Army has been an organisation fighting for the rights of Dalits. What will be the Azad Samaj Party’s main focus?
As a political party, our effort will be to mobilise historically marginalised castes and communities, and to build an alliance among them. We will ensure that the Constitution is implemented in letter and spirit, and will agitate against any law that is against the interest of society. Our ideology is rooted in the ideals of Kanshi Ram, Babasaheb Ambedkar and other revolutionaries. Kanshi Ramji floated the BSP so that leaders of Bahujan society could lead the party. If the BSP had worked on Kanshi Ram’s ideology, the status of the backward community would have improved by now. Unfortunately, the party has lost its direction and is represented by Brahmin leaders in Parliament. What is the difference then between the BSP and the BJP-Congress? We need leaders from Bahujan society to lead the party. The BSP has compromised on its ideology and wants Bahujans only to hoist the party flag. It has used the Dalit community only as a vote bank. That’s why I had to launch a party for the Dalits and the backward community.
What do you think of the existing opposition parties?
Opposition parties have failed to question the BJP government on price rise, unemployment and economic crisis, among other pressing issues When the Opposition fails to fulfil its responsibilities, the government becomes dictatorial. Did anyone question this government on the sale of public-sector companies? I have tweeted to PM Narendra Modi that our private hospitals should be nationalised the way it was done in Spain. We need public-sector institutions more than ever.
Do Dalits need a separate party? How different will the Azad Samaj Party be from other parties?
If the National Population Register and National Register of Citizens exercises are implemented, the Dalit community will be the most affected. But nobody is talking about it. We called a Bharat Bandh on February 22 to protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling that reservation is not a fundamental right. How many parties came out on the street against it? No party raised a hue and cry. Every day, there are reports of atrocities against Dalits and the parties use Dalits solely for electoral benefit. Our aim is to put an end to the caste system, and seek equal representation for young people, women and all the marginalised communities. Like the scheduled castes and schedule tribes, the OBCs and the minorities also need political representation, which is now being enjoyed only by Brahmins and other elite castes.
Will you contest the forthcoming Bihar assembly polls and Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections? Any talk of alliances?
We will contest in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. First, we have to strengthen our cadre in all states. I will embark on a Jan Jagriti Yatra after the coronavirus pandemic is over. No discussion with parties has taken place in Bihar so far, but we are willing to join hands with like-minded parties to defeat the BJP. That’s our strategy in UP too.