BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday attacked Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad in a series of tweets, calling him a BJP "mole" days ahead of Lok Sabha elections. The attack came a week before she is scheduled to hold a show of strength, in the form of a massive rally with ally and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur. Mayawati, who has seen Mr Azad, a young and radical Dalit leader, with suspicion, said the Bhim Army chief had the "ill-intention" of dividing Dalit votes at a crucial time, when it was imperative to take down a dictatorial "anti-Dalit" BJP.
Mayawati was referring to Mr Azad's decision to fight the national elections as an independent from Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Lok Sabha elections are a critical test for Mayawati after the BJP routed both the BSP and the SP from Uttar Pradesh in the last national and assembly elections. Mayawati, who forged an alliance with former arch rival Samajwadi Party, has sought a return to form this time.
However, Mr Azad, who has a reputation for playing spoil-sport with poll arithmetic, could eat into Mayawati's vote-bank, which comprises of the sub-caste of Jatav Dalits. For Mayawati, the stakes are high this time, as the Jatav Dalits had pulled their support for Mayawati's party the last time.
Mr Azad, who is himself a Jatav Dalit, gained prominence in regional Uttar Pradesh politics, after his alleged role emerged in horrific violence between Dalits and upper caste mobs in a village near Saharanpur, which lasted three weeks in 2017.
"The BJP tried hard to help Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar join the BSP as its mole but failed in its conspiracy," the BSP chief said on Twitter, in a blistering attack aimed at Mr Azad.
"It is very imperative in the national interest to dislodge autocratic, despotic anti-Dalit, OBC & minorities BJP from power. Pls ensure no vote goes waste. My Appeal," she said in the tweet.
The BJP tried hard to help Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar join the BSP as its mole but failed in its conspiracy. It is very imperative in the national interest to dislodge autocratic, despotic anti-Dalit, OBC & minorities BJP from power. Pls ensure no vote goes waste. My Appeal.- Mayawati (@Mayawati) March 31, 2019
Even though Mayawati has frequently attacked the Bhim Army chief, Mr Azad, known as "Ravan", has himself often opted for a softer tone while commenting on Mayawati.
"I respect her hugely and would never do anything to undermine her status, or the interests of the Bahujan Samaj (Dalit society), but she has to trust me," Mr Azad had said, after facing Mayawati's wrath over a visit from Congress's Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, after he was briefly hospitalised.
Mr Azad days later, snubbed the Congress, terming the visit which had significant political overtones, a mere courtesy-call.
The Bhim Army chief has also been unrelenting in his attacks against the BJP.
"The countdown to Modi's defeat has begun," he declared after a roadshow yesterday at the Prime Minister's constituency.