LUCKNOW: Ahead of upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, the BJP has begun to consolidate its support among the numerically significant non-Yadav OBCs as it will hold its first joint rally with Nishad Party in Lucknow on Saturday.
BJP and Nishad Party had come together in 2019 Lok Sabha polls when they jointly fielded Gorakhpur 2018 by-poll winner Praveen Nishad from the neighbouring Sant Kabir Nagar on the BJP party symbol. Nishad had successfully won the seat.
At the heart of this alliance is Nishad Party’s chief Sanjay Nishad, who is a sitting MLC in Uttar Pradesh. It’s he who coined the nomenclature for his party Nirbal Indian Soshit Hamara Apna Dal for his party and abbreviated it as Nishad, to bring together the interests of most-backward communities located and settled on the banks of riverine areas of UP.
“This alliance is to teach Samajwadi Party (SP) a lesson which misguides and misleads the nation and Uttar Pradesh by saying they look after interests of all castes, while all they do is browbeat non-Yadav OBCs, Brahmins, Thakurs and Bhumihars. We had made a mistake in 2018 by joining hands with Akhilesh. That mistake was corrected in 2019. And now we will be part of BJP’s sabka saath sabka sabka vikas campaign,” Sanjay told The New Indian.
Nishads are among the 79 OBC castes found in Uttar Pradesh.
Nishads have around 17 sub-castes including Bind, Mallah, Kewat and so on and claim to have overall 4-5 % vote in Uttar Pradesh while Nishad Party had polled 5-lakh plus voted in 2017 polls when it wasn’t in alliance with the BJP.
BJP’s success in 2014, 2017 and 2019 had largely come on the back of non-Yadav, non-Muslim support when it fielded candidates from various OBC castes including, Gaderiyas, Kushwahas,, Shakyas, Mauryas, Pals, Dhangars, Sainis and Kumhars.
“The policy of UP government favours OBCs overall. The leadership within BJP and selection of Keshav Maurya — a non-Yadav as deputy CM is the strongest point. Which no other party ever did to woo them. Akhilesh Yadav himself woos only 9-10 % of UP vote while non-Yadav OBCs are more than 38 %. During last Panchayat elections, non YadavOBCs propelled BJP’s win, just like 2014, 2017 and 2019 ,which is an indication they are still with the BjP intact,” says Dr Amit Kushwaha, assistant professor, political science department, Lucknow University.
anjay Nishad is an MLC in Uttar Pradesh and president of the Nirbal Indian Soshit Hamara Apna Dal (known as the Nishad Party),
The Nishad Party’s own presence though is limited to Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, their presence with the BJP giant leaders on stage will have a ripple effect on other prominent non-Yadav castes too.
“You see the Kurmis, Mauryas, Kashyaps, Rajbhar, Prajapati and Sahus already have felt atrocities at the hands of Yadavs for decades. Their only grievance redressal is in BJP,” said UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi.
Though saffron party is yet to announce its seat sharing pact with two key OBC allies — Apna Dal & Nishad Party, it had in 2017 given 20 seats for its then allies that included Suheldev Bharatia Smaaj party led by O P Rajbhar.
“This time we may increase overall seats to both Apna Dal and Nishad Party” said a BJP leader.
Also, UP government is planning to extend benefits of OBC caste to subcastes as well.
In 2018, a social justice committee led by Justice Raghavdenra Kkumar, a retired Allahabad High Court judge had made recommendations in a report before the Yogi Adityanath government, suggesting a three-way split in the 27% OBC quota, of which nine fall under backward class, 37 under more backward class and 33 under most backward categories.
Nishads are part of most 33 most backward categories alongside Rajbhars, Loniya Chauhan, Dheevar , Kewat, and Kashyap Kahar