Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad launched his political outfit the Azad Samaj Party on Sunday -- the birth anniversary of Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram.
Before launching his party at an event held in Safai village in Noida, the 37-year-old Dalit leader made Kanshi Ram's photograph his Twitter profile picture. He also launched the party flag -- a white band between two blue strips with Azad Samaj Party written in the middle.
Azad said the Bhim Army will run parallel to the party and continue to fight for Dalit rights and enrol new members.
Earlier in the day, Bhim Army members claimed that police have locked the gates of the venue and pasted a notice: "Event cannot be held as large gatherings are prohibited in view of coronavirus". The gate was, however, opened later.
Azad, who rose to prominence during clashes between Thakurs and Dalits in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur in May 2017, had filed nomination against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi during the 2019 general elections, but withdrew later.
In December 2019, the Bhim Army chief was arrested by the Delhi police, when violence erupted during an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act march in old quarters of Delhi after his address to protesters from the stairs of Jama Masjid. He was granted bail by a Delhi court in January.
The advocate-turned-politician has been critical of BSP chief Mayawati, "for not doing enough for the Dalits". Mayawati had earlier termed Azad a "BJP agent" and cautioned her supporters not to ''fall prey to his designs".
The Bhim Army had earlier said that it would contest the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls along with Om Prakash Rajbhar's Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party as part of a larger alliance -- the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha.