"Jailed By Him...": Dalit Icon Chandrashekhar Azad Takes On Yogi Adityanath

Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad had declared back in November that he would challenge Yogi Adityanath. Today, his Azad Samaj Party formally announced it.

'Jailed By Him...': Dalit Icon Chandrashekhar Azad Takes On Yogi Adityanath

Chandrashekhar Azad and his party have no base in Gorakhpur or even eastern Uttar Pradesh

For Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's first-ever state election next month, the first rival was declared today - Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, also a debutant. Unlike Yogi Adityanath, who is a five-time MP, Chandrashekhar Azad has never fought elections before.

The Dalit leader had declared back in November that he would challenge Yogi Adityanath. Today, his Azad Samaj Party formally announced it, just days after the BJP revealed Yogi Adityanath would contest from Gorakhpur Sadar.

Yogi Adityanath's main rival will be the Samajwadi Party candidate, not announced yet. Azad said he wants to fight the Chief Minister anyway, no matter how many opposition candidates there are.

"I am the only politician in the last five years who has spent half that time in jail. Because of this government. I will not let the Chief Minister of this government go to the assembly. That is why I am fighting against him. The opposition is welcome to fight, but I am going to fight against him anyway," Azad told reporters.

The Gorakhpur Sadar assembly seat has been with the BJP continuously since 1989, except once when it was won by an affiliate. In 2017, the BJP's Radha Mohan Das Agarwal won by the seat by a margin of over 60,000 xxvotes.

The Bhim Army chief and his party have no base in Gorakhpur or even eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Azad, 34, had famously backtracked after announcing in 2019 that he would contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He later explained that since he had no party at the time, he thought it best to support Mayawati's party and the Congress.

Azad recently declared that his party would not tie up with the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav, after their seat share talks collapsed.

He said he felt cheated by the Samajwadi Party and that it had reneged on its promise to offer his party 25 seats to contest.

Akhilesh Yadav said he would try to ensure that two seats were set aside for Azad's party but that he was told the Bhim Army chief was no longer interested.

Azad and his Bhim Army were in the spotlight during the May 2017 clashes between Dalits and upper caste Thakurs in Saharanpur.

Azad was arrested after the clashes. Though he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, the Uttar Pradesh police arrested him under the stringent National Security Act (NSA). He was released in September 2018 after 16 months in jail.

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