Stressing on the need for Dalit-Muslim-Backwards unity, the Bhim Army on Thursday said Muslims have been "cheated" by their leaders and should consider carefully with whom they go in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"Muslims have been sidelined by those leaders and parties for whom they have been voting till now," Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekar said in an interview on the outfit's campaign to unite Dalits, Muslims and Backwards.
"Muslims should understand where their interest lies. They should set a benchmark to see if those they have been voting for are really working for them," he said.
"The Muslims' interest lies with Dalits. I think if there is social harmony between them, no politician will be able to divide them. Both sections have remained deprived for long. I realise their weakness and tell them where their interest lies," he added.
On whether lack of well-accepted Muslim leadership is a hurdle to Dalit-Muslim unity, Chandrashekar said, “Yes.” “Yes, I feel so. Muslims had to face mob-lynching in past years but no political party came forward for them. It’s obvious Muslims are cheated for votes,” he said.
Recalling Muslims' "historical support" to Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, Chandrashekhar said, "We will try to give leadership to Muslims and take Bhim Army forward. If there is social harmony , there will be no riots," he said.
Highlighting Bhim Army's goals, he said, "I want to take backwards also along with Dalits and Muslims so that a big section is not misled in the name of religion. They should understand their rights."
Chandrashekar made it clear that Bhim Army will not contest the Lok Sabha polls and will support a candidate fielded jointly by the Opposition against the BJP.
"I am neither going to constitute any party, nor contest elections. We will make 'Bahujan Samaj' aware of the past and unite them against the BJP," he said, batting for a strong Muslim-Dalit alliance under the BSP Mayawati's leadership.
Chandrashekhar was released from jail in September after the Uttar Pradesh government revoked National Security Act (NSA) against him.
He was arrested in June last year after the police suspected him of having played a role in the last year's caste violence in Saharanpur district, involving Dalits and upper caste Thakurs. Charges under the NSA were slapped against him.
In the caste clashes that took place in Saharanpur on May 5, 2017, one person was killed and 16 others, including a head constable, were injured.