Bhim Army activists are moving from village to village in western UP, identifying dalit dwellings and interacting with the local people there.
Lucknow: The Bahujan Samaj Party may be a much-sought after ally for the opposition for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but troubles for Ms Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh have started brewing.
The fledging Bhim Army that came into limelight after 2017 Saharanpur caste riots is now preparing to contest the Lok Sabha elections and though its declared agenda is to defeat the BJP, an undisclosed agenda is also to elbow out the BSP in dalit politics.
According to sources, the Bhim Army has been quietly gathering pace in western UP districts and also mustering support for an agitation to seek the release of its founder Chandra Shekhar Ravan who has been in jail since the past one year on charges of engineering caste riots in Saharanpur.
Bhim Army activists are moving from village to village in western UP, identifying dalit dwellings and interacting with the local people there. “Bhim Army people have been regularly visiting us. They inform us of the developing political situation and how we need to assert our power in the 21019 general elections,” said Dhiru Sonkar, 42, who has migrated from Lucknow to Saharanpur and runs a garment business in Mukhlispur in Saharanpur.
“They also show us pictures of Mayawati’s bungalows in Lucknow and Delhi and ask us what benefits have we got during her regimes as chief minister”, added Mr Sonkar.
Mr Dhiru said that he went to Saharanpur ten years ago to visit a relative because he had no job in Lucknow. “The local dalits convinced me to stay there and start a business and then two years ago, Bhim Army people also started shielding me against the police and other officials. There are many others like me who have found a foothold in society because of Bhim Army”, he added.
Sources said that dalit youths, in large numbers, are joining the Bhim Army because they subscribe to its aggressive brand of politics.
According to conservation estimates, nearly one lakh dalit youths have joined Bhim Army in districts of Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat , Meerut, Badaun and Bijnore in the past one year.
“People talk of the BSP factor in the BJP’s defeat in Kairana and Noorpur by-elections but they forget that Mayawati did not even issue an appeal for the opposition candidates. It was the Bhim Army that backed the opposition in order to defeat the BJP”, said a local journalist who did not wish to be identified.
Vinay Ratan Singh, a Bhim Army leader who was recently released from jail, said “We are working silently but in a powerful manner. We are mobilizing people in our favour and against the BJP. The people trust us because we have no history of ever having joined hands with BJP” (read BSP).