Chandrashekhar Azad: Is The Maverick Leader A Real Force In UP Politics?
Chandrashekhar Azad emerged in Uttar Pradesh as a grassroots-level leader in 2016 following the anti-Dalit violence in Saharanpur. He is presenting himself and his organizations as inheritors of the legacy of Kanshi Ram and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, two icons of the Dalit- Bhahujan movement in the state and country.
He may not be as visible or high-profile as 'established' parties but he has made his presence felt on the ground in multiple groundswell protests. Azad presents his party as the underdog in a David vs. Goliath battle of moneyed parties against his own "party of the poor". He also articulates a direct, anti-Hindutva, anti-majoritarian, anti-Right Wing narrative which is sharper than the 'social justice' rhetoric offered by the SP-RLD alliance.
He has gone head-to-head with Yogi Adityanath in his constituency, and has made multiple, though unsuccesful, outreach efforts to BSP supremo Mayawati, who inherited the party's command from Kanshi Ram himself.
Azad also fell out of a planned alliance with Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, and then formed his own alliance wth 35 smaller parties. It will be interesting to see the impact of Azad and his two organizations in the politics of the state in the future and not only for this election.