Lucknow: Mayawati’s decision to appoint her nephew Akash Anand as the vice-president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Lok Sabha has triggered a flurry of speculation touting it as a counter to cut the popularity of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad. However, Azad said that the founder of BSP, Kanshi Ram, would have acted differently than Mayawati.
Although Akash’s name was formally announced as the National Coordinator of the BSP on Sunday, the ground for his elevation was made almost two years back when the Saharanpur riots haunted Uttar Pradesh in 2017. Sensing Azad’s growing popularity during the riots, Mayawati rushed to Shabbirpur village, which was worst hit by the violence. She was accompanied by Akash Anand, who had barely finished his MBA.
On the contrary, Azad had tried to build a bridge between his party and the BSP by referring to Mayawati as ‘Bua’ (aunt). The same gesture was, however, not reciprocated. Instead, the BSP supremo lashed out at Azad and termed him as ‘B team’ of the BJP. Mayawati even asked the Bhim Army Chief to collate with her party instead of running his own.
Now, two years later, political experts feel Mayawati’s bid to check the Bhim Army’s influence was manifested in her move to promote Akash.
Senior journalist and political commentator Ratan Mani Lal said, “Mayawati wants to give a fresh face to the urban youth and she did that with her nephew Akash Anand. After the failure of Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi in UP, the BSP Chief wants to attract the youth to BSP. By calling the Bhim Army as BJP’s B Team, she wants to cut the effect of Azad among the Muslims and Jatavs in the western part of the state.”
However, Azad reacted to Mayawati’s decision differently.
“Kanshi Ram’s style of politics differs from that of Mayawati. He believed in keeping the Prince grounded instead of making him a King. He wanted the last man of the Bahujan community to become the leader. If he wanted, then he would have handed the baton over to his family. There is nothing much left to say, I want to congratulate Akash.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also criticised the appointments and accused the BSP of practicing dynastic politics. "Whether it's the Congress, SP or BSP, these are family parties... they don't represent India or the Indian people," said Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya.
The decision to appoint the new faces was taken at a two-hour-long national convention of the BSP at party headquarters in Lucknow, which was attended by all newly-elected MPs, MLAs and key post-holders from across the country.