Anand, Azad and the future of Dalit politics - Hindustan Times
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Anand, Azad and the future of Dalit politics

ByHT Editorial
Jun 24, 2024 08:32 PM IST

Azad has risen from the grassroots through agitational politics whereas Anand draws his influence from aunt Mayawati’s legacy

BSP supremo Mayawati has reinstated nephew Akash Anand as the national coordinator of the party and her heir over seven weeks after she removed him from these positions during the general elections. The party performed poorly as the election turned into a straight contest between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the INDIA bloc of the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP). The BSP failed to win a single seat – down from 10 (all from Uttar Pradesh) in the 17th Lok Sabha – and its vote share fell below 10%. However, Chandrasekhar Azad, a potential rival to Mayawati’s leadership claim over UP’s large Dalit population, won the Nagina reserved seat with a majority of over 1.5 lakh votes. Azad’s victory and the INDIA bloc’s success serve as a warning to the BSP, which has seen its support decline even in the UP assembly after being in office for a full term from 2007 to 2012. The results also reflect a churn in Dalit politics.

Lucknow, India June 23, 2024:::BSP supremo Mayawati with her nephew Akash Anand and brother Anand Kumar (middle one) in the BSP office in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh India on Sunday, June 23, 2024. (Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times)
Lucknow, India June 23, 2024:::BSP supremo Mayawati with her nephew Akash Anand and brother Anand Kumar (middle one) in the BSP office in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh India on Sunday, June 23, 2024. (Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times)

Azad’s Aazad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) is a middling outfit compared to the pan-Indian, legacy-rich, and resourceful BSP. Azad has risen from the grassroots through agitational politics whereas Anand draws his influence from aunt Mayawati’s legacy. Azad has also sought to link up with Kanshi Ram’s legacy of mobilisational politics. This is interesting for barring the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) in Tamil Nadu, which has two MPs (it is part of the INDIA bloc, led by the DMK, in the state), most Dalit outfits have eschewed agitational politics. The Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) and Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular), which have representatives in Parliament, are examples of this tendency. Even the VCK is an electoral ally of the DMK. The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (led by Prakash Ambedkar) that rejected the overtures of INDIA bloc in Maharashtra failed to win a seat.

This raises the question if there is scope for a group that defines itself in narrow identities to stand its ground against parties that seek to be representative of politics that offer the umbrella of broader social coalitions in a polarised society divided between the Hindutva and social justice/secularism camps. Can Anand or Azad break this pattern?

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