Nishad
Praveen Kumar Nishad joins the BJP

[pullquote]1. Nishad Party, bearing influence in Purvanchal, joins NDA
2. Praveen K Nishad, who won from Gorakhpur, joins BJP
3. Sanjay Nishad calls it unconditional coalition with BJP
4. The community decides the outcome of around 25 seats of Purvanchal[/pullquote]

Lucknow: In a big political development in Uttar Pradesh just before the Lok Sabha election, the Nishad Party has aligned with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). With this realignment, current Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Praveen Nishad from Gorakhpur joined the BJP.

During the Lok Sabha by-election in Gorakhpur, the SP had fielded Nishad. Yogi Adityanath had vacated the Gorakhpur seat after becoming the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The parting of the Nishad Party is believed to have delivered a shock to the SP-BSP-RLD coalition.

Senior BJP leader JP Nadda administered party membership to Praveen Nishad at the BJP headquarters in Delhi on Thursday. Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Siddharth Nath Singh was present on the occasion.

Sanjay Nishad, the founder president of Nishad Party, said in an interview after the event, “It is an unconditional coalition.”

No demand for seats: Sanjay Nishad

Nishad
From the archives, a photo dated 2016

Sanjay Nishad said, “This alliance will have an impact on the eastern region as well as Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. We have no demand for seats. The main issue is social. The BJP is free to field anybody from Gorakhpur.”

While targeting the SP-BSP alliance, the founder of the caste-based party said they wanted to make him contest using their election symbol. We wanted to keep it as a cooperative rather than a coalition.

Sanjay said, “The Nishad community votes in almost all the seats of UP. There are more than 3 to 4 lakh voters in our constituency across 25 Lok Sabha seats.”

Earlier, the Nishad Party had announced an alliance with the SP but, within a few days, Sanjay accused it of ignoring his party. After this, the SP secured Rambhula Nishad as its candidate from the constituency of Gorakhpur by replacing sitting MP Praveen Nishad.

The Nishad party had alleged also that Akhilesh Yadav was working under the pressure of the joint chief of the alliance, Mayawati.

‘Mayawati, Akhilesh cheated me’

Sanjay Nishad

Sanjay had said on Tuesday, “Akhilesh Yadav is working under the pressure of Mayawati. This was the reason that the SP chief tricked me with the assurance of giving Gorakhpur and Maharajganj seats.”

“Akhilesh later gave me just one seat instead of two and asked us to contest on the SP symbol. It could not approve of it. I wanted to contest the election on my party’s election symbol, a food plate. But that could not happen. Akhilesh and Mayawati both have cheated me So, I decided to separate,” the politician said.

The Nishad region of influence

There are about 3.5 lakh Nishads in the Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency.

While the name of the party sounds like that of a caste — of course, the party represents the caste primarily — NISHAD is the acronym of Nirbal India Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal. Political equations can change in many seats in the Purvanchal region with the alliance between this party with the BJP.

There is a sizeable population of the Nishad community in eastern Uttar Pradesh along the banks of the Ganges. Nishad Party, formed in the year 2016, is considered a good influencer, especially in the Nishad, Kevat, Mohalla, Baldar and Bind communities.

The Nishad community can play a crucial role in close contests in 16 Lok Sabha seats including those of Gorakhpur, Deoria, Maharajganj, Bansgaon, Jaunpur and Varanasi.

Dent in the opposition

After the demise of Jamuna Nishad, the SP had fielded his wife Rajmati and son Amarendra in the Assembly elections. Rajmati once became a legislator too.

Nishad was the party on the target of BJP since the time Praveen Kumar Nishad sparked made SP-BSP wrest the by-election of 2018. For this, the BJP held a dialogue with S Nishad and finally succeeded.

How the community defeated BJP in Gorakhpur by-poll

Before the results of Gorakhpur by-election on 14 March last year, the BJP was full of excitement, but the result dealt a blow to the party. The BJP, which had been winning Gorakhpur for three decades, lost the seat. This ‘impregnable’ fort had been breached by Praveen Nishad of the SP. An astonished chief minister and mahant of the Gorakshapeeth Yogi Adityanath had said, “This defeat is unexpected.” The BJP has not yet overcome that defeat.

This was the second Lok Sabha election for Yogi in 1998. He was confident of his victory. The SP had fielded former minister Jamuna Nishad. Yogi won by securing only 7,332 votes. This close fight for the BJP and Yogi was a sign that turned ominous in the 2018 by-poll. The party’s strategists believe, due to the influence of the Nishad votes, BJP encountered the first challenge, which later turned into a defeat.