After Suheldeo Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar abandoned ally Bharatiya Janata Party and decided to field candidates in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP started propping up Nishad Party by attaching prominence to its president Sanjay Nishad in poll campaign.
BJP spokesman Manish Dixit said that Sanjay Nishad would accompany Maneka Gandhi during her roadshow in Sultanpur on Thursday. He will also be present at the Sultanpur collectorate where Maneka will file nomination papers. The same day, Nishad will address a rally of the BJP candidate from Machhlishahr, VP Saroj, and later in the evening, address a rally in Varanasi.
A senior BJP leader said that members of Nishad Party would be asked to address rallies or accompany BJP leaders where Nishad community was in sizeable number.
Nishads are bracketed with Mallah community whose traditional occupation centres around fishing and rowing boat in rivers. In UP, Nishads are among 17 OBC communities, who have been demanding Scheduled Caste status. Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had twice sent a proposal to provide SC status to Mallah community but it was stayed by the court.
In UP, seven Nishad castes, namely Manjhwar, Gaur, Turha, Kharot, Kharvar, Beldar and Koli are recognised as Scheduled Castes while the other sub-castes have been accorded OBC (Other Backward Class) status.
According to an estimate, Nishad community comprises 17 per cent population of the state and a majority of them live in eastern UP.
Nishad Party had joined the BJP as an ally but Sanjay Nishad’s son Praveen Nishad joined the BJP and has been fielded from Sant Kabir Nagar. Incidentally, Praveen Nishad is the sitting MP from Gorakhpur, a seat which he had won on SP ticket in the bypoll after Yogi Adityanath resigned from Lok Sabha after being elected to UP Legislative Council on becoming the Chief Minister of the state.
The BJP contested the 2017 Assembly election with SBSP as an ally and its chief Om Prakash Rajbhar was made a Cabinet minister.
In the last two years, BJP and SBSP have enjoyed a blow hot, blow cold relation with Rajbhar intermittently threatening to walk out of the alliance.
“Nishad Party is compensating the loss we may suffer from the SBSP decision to field candidates from 25 constituencies,” a BJP leader said.