Lucknow- On the 10th of December, BSP Chief Mayawati announced her nephew Akash Anand as her successor by handing him the charge of affairs for the entire country, except Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Akash Anand is the son of Ananda Kumar, Mayawati’s brother, and therefore, was seen as the heir apparent even before the formal announcement. Akash already held the post of National Coordinator of the party led by her aunt, former Chief Minister Mayawati.
Akash, an MBA graduate from London, was first seen in public in 2017 when he shared the stage with Mayawati at a rally in Meerut. Later, he also accompanied Party Supremo Mayawati to Saharanpur, where she had gone after members of the Thakur community clashed with Dalits, leading to arson in many Dalit homes.
Akash was occasionally seen with Mayawati during her public appearances but did not make any comments or address any public gatherings until 2019, when he spoke at a public rally in Agra. He shared the stage with SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav and RLD Chief Jayant Chowdhary. The address was seen as a fill-in for Mayawati’s absence after the Election Commission imposed a gag on her. However, Akash already figured in the list of 20-star campaigners for the 2019 elections.
The 28-year-old Akash got married earlier this year to Pragya Siddharth, the daughter of former BSP MP Ashok Siddhartha. The wedding was held at a resort in Gurugram and was attended by BSP office bearers and long-time supporters of the party.
In August, in response to a question from a journalist in Bhopal about the Bhim Army, he asked, “Kaun Bhim Army (Bhim Army, who)?” The dismissal of Bhim Army had not gone down well with the supporters of Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who accused him of being arrogant and unaware of the ground realities.
In 2017, Mayawati had appointed her brother Anand Kumar as the National Vice-President but was made to step down after massive opposition from within the party ranks over “nepotism” before being reinstated. In 2019, she lashed out at the media for projecting Akash Anand as the “future face of the party.”
Reacting to the allegations of nepotism, Avinash, a party worker from Unnao, defended the move of BSP Supremo Mayawati by saying, “No one questioned the appointment of Tejasvi Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi when they were given key posts in parties led by their parents. But when Behenji appointed Akash bhai as her heir, everyone is having a problem. He said that this reeks of an anti-dalit mindset of the people and the media.”
Akhilesh, another party worker from Bahraich, who accompanied his district office bearers to a Lucknow public meeting, said, “On earlier occasions, many people had betrayed Behenji, and therefore, she was forced to choose someone from her own family.”
The Mooknayak spoke to Syed Qasim, a journalist who has been observing BSP for a long time. He said, “Party Supremo Mayawati looks after the affairs of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, therefore Akash has not been handed over the reins of these states.”
Akash has been handed over the charge of the party at a time when BSP is passing through a difficult phase and facing the threat of losing its national party status. In the recently concluded elections in four states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana, the party witnessed a drop in the vote share and the number of seats in all four states despite the fact that Akash had campaigned for the party at the ground level and even taken out a 14-day "Sarvajan Hitay, Sarvajan Sukhay, Sankalp Yatra" in Rajasthan. The appointment of Akash is being seen as an attempt to mobilize youth voters.
Speaking to The Mooknayak, Vishwanath Pal, the State President of BSP in Uttar Pradesh, said it is a welcome move and would certainly help in adding youths to the party as Akash himself is a youth. He has worked at the ground level during the recently concluded assembly elections in four states. "I congratulate him for the appointment."