It was a sea of blue, white, gold-rimmed sunglasses and testosterone all along Parliament Street on Thursday, March 15. It was from here that Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad set the tone for the Lok Sabha elections – bring Modi down.
Rising to the slogans of ‘Jai Bhim’ and ‘Neela Salam’ on the birth anniversary of Kanshi Ram, Aazad announced his candidature from Varanasi, and asked all his well-wishers and supporters to head to Banaras to ensure the defeat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I am going to Varanasi and I will need help to defeat him. PM Modi is anti-Dalit and he should realise the effect of opposing and subjugating Dalits. He must learn that in a democracy, public has the power,” said Aazad in the presence of Bahujan leader Kanshi Ram’s sister Swarna Kaur.
“If I were playing politics, I would have contested from a reserved seat, but Banaras is a general seat and that is from where I will contest and Modi should be defeated by Bahujans,” pointed out Aazad.
Pointing towards the obvious fact that upper castes were coming to power with Bahujan votes, Aazad said Dalits must come together to take on upper caste hegemony, subtly hinting towards the RSS drive to unite the OBCs in favour of Modi. “If we are silent now, the future will ask us why we were silent. This is the 21st century and the rule of Bahujans is going to come,” contended Aazad.
“Even if we all die, even if all of this ends, Modiji should not come back to power,” asserted Aazaad. He reminded voters to remember Rohith Vemula, Bhima Koregaon and Shabbirpur while going out to cast their votes.
Taking a potshot at PM Modi for washing the feet of sanitation workers, Aazad said that Modi was washing the feet of his Dalit brothers and sisters in Banaras when he had announced “we will fight from Banaras”.
“For power, they will even wash our legs,” derided the Bhim Army chief and he went on to question if anyone had objected to the 10% reservation for the economic weaker section even though it was it was against the Constitution.
While stating that he did not aspire to be a politician, Aazad pointed out that he wanted to send out a message that “here is someone who will not let you win”. “Will you help me oust Modi from Parliament,” asked Aazad to hear an emphatic ‘Yes’ from the crowd.
Talking about Coalition politics, the popular young leader said, “Kanshi Ram has taught us about coalition politics. He taught how one vote can bring down a government in Delhi. The Mahagatbandhan should be so strong that BJP should not get a single seat,” exhorted Aazad.
“We will be supporting BSP-SP in all the other 79 seats, so we expect that they will support us in one seat,” emphasised Aazad.
The Bhim Army national secretary Vinay Ratan Singh said the party will put up their own candidates or support those who are not part of the SP-BSP alliance in seats where the “Mahagathbandhan is not strong enough” in Uttar Pradesh. The Dalit leader also said the SP-BSP alliance should "send (Kanshi Ram's sister) Swarn Kaur to Parliament".
Maintaining that his strength came from the Constitution, Aazad said that the BJP has showed how strong they are by cancelling Bhim Army rallies, stopping trains form Saharanpur to prevent people from reaching the venue. “Why are they afraid of us,” questioned Aazad and added that his vision is to see the blue flag flying from the Red Fort.
People had come from at least 15 states from all around the country including Mahrashtra and Kerala. The only woman who could be seen in the human chain formed around Aazad was Sudha Vijaya Kumar from Kerala. She had given up her work in Bahrain to come back and join the movement in December 2918. Thanking all such supporters, Aazad exhorted all Bahujans to unify to take on BJP.
Aazad had first risen to prominence when he was arrested for caste violence in Saharanpur under the rule of Yogi Adityanath in June 2017, after which he was booked under the National Security Act. He was released in September 2018.