Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Wednesday paid a visit to Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad at a hospital in Meerut where he was admitted following deterioration in his health in police custody. Priyanka’s visit to Meerut came as a surprise to everyone as it was not in her itinerary. She headed straight to the hospital to meet the Dalit leader who was taken into police custody on Tuesday.
Chandrashekhar was taken into police custody for violating the model code of conduct. He was leading a procession that included cars and motorcycles. The violation of poll norms was allegedly over the number of vehicles in the political rally.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Priyanka lashed out at the BJP government saying it is crushing the voice of poor, underprivileged. “This government has become so arrogant, it wants to crush a young man. It does not want to listen to his voice. Since they didn’t give employment, now when they are raising their voice, let them. What is the point of crushing that,” she said.
Priyanka added that her meeting with the Dalit leader should not be seen through a political prism.
“There is nothing like this. Nothing political. I like his enthusiasm. I like the fact that he is struggling and raising the voice of his people,” she replied when asked about the possibility of fielding Chandrashekhar from the Nagina seat.
Chandrashekhar is a prominent Dalit leader in Uttar Pradesh. Although he had once called BSP supremo Mayawati her ‘bua’ (aunt), he has expressed reservations over her style of leadership.
Soon after the meeting, Chandrashekhar declared that he will contest Lok Sabha against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi. When asked whether he would join the Congress, Chandrashekhar said, “There is no possibility now, there is no possibility ever. We are a Bahujan samaj. And we will support their cause.”
Chandrashekhar hails from Dhadkuli village of Saharanpur. He was arrested by the UP police from Dalhouse of Himachal Pradesh in June 2017 in connection with a Saharanpur violence case. He was granted bail by Allahabad High Court in November 2017 but police booked him under the stringent National Security Act before his release. He was released finally in September 2018. Soon after his release, the leader said that he will work with the BSP to ensure BJP is routed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But the BSP supremo refused to take his support.
Later, the Bhim Army leader said that that when BSP was in power, he had raised the issues of Dalits with then government but was asked to keep quite.