With Nishad’s exit, is it curtains for SP-BSP in Gorakhpur?
Lucknow, Apr 06: In a dramatic sequence of events, the Nishad Party announced its decision to withdraw support from the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance in Uttar Pradesh and subsequently joined hands with the BJP.
The move holds significance as it was the Nishad Party's Pravin Nishad who snatched the prestigious Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat from the BJP's grip in a by-election last year on a SP symbol.
With their entry, the BJP's prospects appear to be stronger in at least six Lok Sabha seats of eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the community is numerically significant. Nishads can also affect the poll outcome in Azamgarh, Maharajganj and Varanasi seats.
The Nishad community constitutes 17% population in Uttar Pradesh with influence in 152 assembly seats. There are densely populated villages on the banks of river Ganga, Ghaghara, Rapti, Gandak and Yamuna rivers in UP, which are densely populated by Nishads.
Despite being in significant numbers, Nishads never got benefits from reservation that communities like Jatavs, Yadavs, Kurmi-Patels got. They are critical in the Gorakhpur constituency, and shift the balance in several seats in Purvanchal.
BSP chief Mayawati is now considering fielding senior leaders from different caste groups from the eastern region in a bid to recalibrate its strategy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
According to reports, the BSP is now likely to field senior leaders such as Satish Chandra Mishra from the Kaiserganj constituency in order to capitalise on Brahmin votes, along with the traditional Dalit votes.
Imporance of Nishads in eastern UP
Projecting itself as the voice of the riverine OBC castes, the Nishad Party had managed to secure over 5.4 lakh votes in the 72 seats it contested, mostly in east U.P., but failed to win a seat in the 2017 Assembly election.
It was the Nishad factor which turned the tables for BJP in Yogiland in the 2018 bypoll.
Yogi Adityanath had been a five-time BJP MP (1998 to 2014) from Gorakhpur, which is the seat of one of the most revered peeths - Gorakshnath temple. Significantly, every time Yogi registered his victory with a bigger margin than the previous one.
In 2018 by-poll, SP fielded Praveen Nishad, son of Dr Sanjay Nishad, chief of NISHAD (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Humara Apna Dal) as the SP candidate whom BSP extended support at the eleventh hour. Nishad emerged victorious, breaking the two-decade dominance of Gorakshnath temple in the area and taking the seat out of the peeth.
In SP's victory, the role of Nishad factor came to the fore prominently. Nishads, constitute 3.5 lakh of the total electorate in Gorakhpur.
The growing political power of the Nishad will have an impact in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.