In a virtual snub to Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati Sunday denied any association with him, days after he had claimed that he and his "bua" (aunt) Mayawati have the "same blood".
The Bhim Army was set up around three years ago in Saharanpur and has gained considerable popularity among members of the Scheduled Castes.
The group champions empowerment of Dalits, especially those apparently disenchanted with former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.
Azad (31) walked free from Saharanpur district jail in the wee hours of Friday after the UP government decided to release him before the completion of his detention period.
"Some people in order to realise their vested political interests, some in their defence, while some in order to look young are trying to forge different relationships such as brother-sister and bua-bhatija (aunt and nephew) with me," Mayawati told reporters in Lucknow.
Her comments came against the backdrop of the Bhim Army founder, who is also known as Ravan, reportedly claiming that, "We (he and Mayawati) both have the same blood. She may have some issues with me, I have none with her. It is not in my values to speak ill of my 'bua' (aunt). Our only aim is to defeat the BJP."
Referring to attempts made by Azad to forge the relationship of 'bua' with her, Mayawati said she cannot have any respectable relationship with such people.
"For the past few days, a man who was recently released from jail is trying to call me 'bua'. If these people were really interested in the welfare of Dalits, then instead of resurrecting their organisation, they would have joined the BSP," she said.
Sources say Azad's release could be BJP's strategy to lessen the influence of the BSP in western Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
In the recent by-elections in the region, the BJP lost its two seats -- Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly seats -- to joint opposition candidates.
Mayawati had taken several digs at the Bhim Army, suggesting it was a product of the BJP and the party was using it to target the BSP and block its attempts to forge an alliance of all castes in UP.
The Bhim Army chief was detained under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) in connection with the 2017 Saharanpur violence.
He was arrested in June 2017 in connection with the May 5 clashes between Thakurs and Dalits in which one person was killed and 16 others injured at Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur.
On November 2, 2017, the Allahabad High Court had granted bail to Azad.
However, a day before his release, he was booked under the NSA, thus preventing his release. Under the NSA, he was to be detained till November 1.