Maya threatened by new SC poster boy?

Maya threatened by new SC poster boy?

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visits Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad at a hospital, in Meerut on March 13. PTI

The Scheduled Caste politics in Uttar Pradesh is likely to witness a churning as Bheem Army president Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan appears all set to emerge as the new poster boy of the Scheduled Caste (SC) movement in the state.

His meeting with Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday has upset BSP supremo Mayawati, who has sought to downplay his rise as an SC leader fearing that it may dent her own core vote bank.

Chandrashekher shot into limelight after leading a mass protest in the state's Saharanpur district, about 500 km from here, following the killing of two SC youths in clashes with the powerful Thakur community in 2017.

He was arrested and later the stringent National Security Act (NSA) was slapped on him after he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in November 2017.

Chandrashekher was released after spending 15 months in jail and was accorded a grand welcome by thousands of SC youths at his village of Shabbirpur.

Though the Yogi Adityanath government withdrew the NSA hoping to douse the rising anger within the SC community, Chandrashekher vowed to continue to fight what he termed the "anti-Dalit" BJP government.

Initially, the SC leader had extended an olive branch to Mayawati, but she spurned the offer, perhaps fearing that he might replace her as the sole claimant of the community votes, which would explain why Mayawati is upset now.

"Chandrashekher has a strong following in Saharanpur and some adjoining districts. His support to any party may tilt the scale in its favour," said a BSP leader here.

Congress sources here however said that they did not want Chandrashekher to join their ranks.

"Chandrashekher's strident campaign against the upper castes may adversely impact our electoral fortune. We would like to support him if he decides to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls," a state Congress leader said here.

Chandrashekher has indicated that he wants to fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat and has sought the support of Opposition parties.

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