Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Azad Samaj Party (ASP) led by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad entered into an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Friday after Chandrashekhar met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav at the SP state unit office here in the morning.

The Azad Samaj Party enjoys influence over Dalit community voters in the districts of west UP. Chandrashekhar is likely to contest assembly election in alliance with the SP in his stronghold Saharanpur.

After meeting Akhilesh, Chandrashekhar said, “Discussion was held on alliance and seat sharing. The ASP has decided to join hand with the Samajwadi Party to defeat the Bhartiya Janta Party in the coming assembly election. The SP alliance led by Akhilesh Yadav will form the next government in UP.”

The Samajwadi Party allies for the upcoming UP polls include the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Mahan Dal, the Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) , the Trinamool Congress and the Janvadi Party (Socialist). The SP and RLD alliance on Thursday released the list of the 29 candidates who will contest election on the SP and the RLD tickets on the assembly seats located in western UP.

Launched in March 2020, the ASP had contested the Bihar assembly election held in October, 2020, in alliance with the Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) led by Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav. The ASP and the JAP had joined Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) of the smaller political parties. The ASP failed to open its account in Bihar despite month-long campaign by Chandrashekhar Azad. In the zila panchayat ward election held in May 2020 in UP, the Bhim Army made its presence felt with winning wards in Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts.

To mobilise the party cadre for the UP assembly election, the ASP had launched a bicycle yatra on July 1, 2020 in all 403 assembly segments in Uttar Pradesh. “The ASP will raise the issue of increasing atrocities on Dalit community members in UP, appointment on vacant posts according to the reservation formula, implementation of SC/ST/OBC reservation policy in the appointments for government jobs and price rise in the election campaign,” Chandrashekhar said.

Fearing that ASP might cut into the BSP Dalit vote base, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati had called upon the party workers not to be misguided by the parties launched by some leaders to serve their vested political interests. “The Dalit community should remain wary of the political gimmicks of those who are claiming to be Dalit leaders. The BSP is not only a political party but a movement to fulfil the dreams of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram,” she had said.

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