Battle of one-upmanship among two Nishad parties worries SP

| | Lucknow
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Battle of one-upmanship among two Nishad parties worries SP

Wednesday, 28 July 2021 | PNS | Lucknow


The battle of one-upmanship among two Nishad parties staking claim over the legacy of bandit queen and former MP Phoolan Devi has worried the Samajwadi Party. The Nishad Party of UP and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Bihar, both allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party, are vying with each other to establish themselves as the sole representative of the Nishad community  in UP and claiming themselves as the sole representative of Phoolan Devi.
“It was the Samajwadi Party that took cudgels on behalf of the community in 1994 and not only ensured the release of Phoolan Devi but got her elected to Lok Sabha twice. Now new claimants have emerged to stake claim on her legacy. Both Nishad community- based parties would be exposed during the 2022 UP Assembly elections as people know who their real benefactor is,” said a Samajwadi Party leader in Lucknow on Tuesday.
Nishad leader and Bihar minister Mukesh Sahani has said that his outfit, VIP, will contest 165 assembly seats in the 2022 UP elections. Eyeing the votes of Nishad (Mallah) community that constitute seven per cent of UP’s electorate, Sahani has decided to install Phoolan Devi's statues in 18 UP districts including Prayagraj, Firozabad, Ballia, Sant Kabir Nagar, Banda, Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Auraiya, Lucknow, Unnao, Meerut, Mirzapur, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Varanasi and Jaunpur. All these districts have the presence of a sizable Nishad community.
In 1994, the then Chief Minister of UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav had withdrawn pending cases against Phoolan Devi and facilitated her release from the jail. She was in jail for the 1981 massacre of Thakur community members in Behmai village of Kanpur Dehat. Subsequently, Phoolan was elected twice to Lok Sabha as a SP candidate from Bhadohi constituency in  UP. However in 2001, Phoolan Devi was perforated with bullets by assailants outside her official residence in Delhi. The assassins later said that they wanted to avenge the deaths of people in Behmai village.
Sahani's political ambition has become a threat to the UP-based Nishad Party headed by Sanjay Nishad, whose son Praveen Nishad is a BJP MP from Khalilabad. Sanjay Nishad has been a Nishad politician in Uttar Pradesh for decades and has raised the issues of the community on numerous occasions. He is now eying a berth in Yogi Adityanath’s possible cabinet expansion. The party is dominant in about 20 Lok Sabha constituencies and 60 Assembly segments in Uttar Pradesh.
If Mukesh Sahani manages to make inroads into the Nishad votes in UP, he will be another option for the BJP to replace Sanjay Nishad as the saffron party has been under pressure from him  in recent months.
Rattled over the development, the Samajwadi Party has been keeping a close watch on the situation. A SP leader said, “The Nishad community has always played an important role in Uttar Pradesh’s politics. The Samajwadi Party has always aimed to provide political representation to them in the organisation, government, Parliament or assembly. Phoolan Devi, Vishambhar Prasad Nishad, Rajpal Kashyap are some examples.”

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