New Delhi: Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Wednesday rescinded his decision of contesting the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bid to keep the Dalit vote intact to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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Extending support to the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance in Uttar Pradesh, he said, “I have decided not to contest from Varanasi because I do not want that my decision should strengthen the BJP or Modi in anyway. We all want to defeat the BJP.” He also asked the alliance to field Satish Chandra Mishra, Mayawati’s general secretary and Brahmin face of the BSP, from the constituency.

Azad’s remarks come a few days after BSP chief Mayawati termed him a BJP agent and accused him of dividing Dalit votes.

On Mayawati’s criticism, he said, as quoted in a PTI report, “I was in jail for 16 months. While behind the bars, everyday I would hope that ‘behenji’ would take our side, fight for us, but she did not utter a word. After getting released, I tried calling her up, but she never responded.”

He added, “Our own people are calling us agents of the BJP, but I still want her to become our prime minister. I want to end this war of words with Mayawati once and for all. I want to make it clear that we did not form the Bhim Army at the behest of the BJP.”

Azad had announced at a rally in the national capital in March that he would contest against PM Modi from Varanasi and had welcomed support of all parties, including the Congress, to take on the BJP.

He had also sought the support of the SP and the BSP for his candidature, saying that the Dalit group would back their alliance in other seats.

The SP-BSP-RLD alliance is yet to declare its candidate against Modi in Varanasi, which will go to polls in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on May 19. The counting of votes will be conducted on May 23.

(Inputs from PTI)