Mayawati's forced break from the election campaign for 48 hours, courtesy the Election Commission, has pushed to the public glare a 24-year-old man often seen by her side in standout Gucci shoes. Akash Anand, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief's nephew, was finally heard today in Agra, a seat in western Uttar Pradesh that will vote on March 18.
Akash Anand was Mayawati's representative at a massive gathbandhan rally this afternoon where Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh were also present.
Till now in the background at public events and gatherings, Akash today had a front row seat along with Akhilesh Yadav, Ajit Singh and top BSP leader SC Mishra.
Akash was the first to speak and he did not forget to mention that this was his debut political speech. It is his first rally even though he was named one of the BSP's "star" campaigners.
"Saamne waale ki zamanat jabt karwayenge ki nahin karwayenge? (Will we or won't we decimate our rival?)," Akash asked as the crowd roared back a resounding "Haan (yes)".
"That will be a fitting reply to the Election Commission," Akash added, referring to his aunt being barred from campaigning for 48 crucial hours, just before the second round of voting for the national election, over a communal speech.
Mayawati today challenged the Election Commission's ban in the Supreme Court but didn't get any reprieve as the judges approved of the punishment. "It seems the Election Commission has woken up by our orders and barred various politicians from campaigning for varying timing. This makes it clear no further orders are required now," Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said.
At a recent meeting in Deoband, Mayawati had warned the Muslim community not to "split votes" between the Congress and her alliance. Appealing to caste or communal feelings to secure votes is banned under the model code of conduct, a series of dos and don'ts for political parties ahead of elections.
Akash Anand, a business graduate, has been seen in several photos alongside Mayawati and other top BSP leaders since January. His father Anand Kumar, Mayawati's brother, is a former BSP vice president.
Akash had accompanied his aunt on the 2017 Uttar Pradesh state poll campaign.
When he was noticed and commented upon, Mayawati declared that she would definitely have Akash join the "BSP movement" and if anyone had problems, "our party doesn't care."