Lucknow: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will contest the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly election in alliance with the Nishad Party.
Union minister and BJP’s UP election in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan made the announcement during a press conference Friday at the party’s state headquarters, where Sanjay Nishad, chief of Nishad Party, was also present.
“We had an alliance with Nishad Party in (2019) Lok Sabha polls and today we are formally announcing that BJP will contest 2022 UP polls in alliance with Nishad Party,” Pradhan said.
“Apna Dal is also with us. 2022 elections will be fought under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. After spending three days in UP, I can confidently say that people have immense faith in PM Modi and CM Yogi.”
Pradhan added that the seat-sharing formula would be finalised later.
A source close to the BJP, however, told ThePrint that the Nishad Party is preparing to contest on one dozen seats in Purvanchal for now.
“Nishad Party chief will be nominated as one of the MLCs on the four seats vacant at Legislative council soon. They were told to do preparation for one dozen seats of Purvanchal as of now,” the source said.
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The Nishad Party contested the 2018 Gorakhpur bypoll in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party and won.
However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls, the Nishad Party formed an alliance with the BJP.
Praveen Kumar, son of Sanjay Nishad, who contested on a BJP ticket from Sant Kabir Nagar, won. In the last few months, Nishad has met Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda at least thrice, to hold discussion on the upcoming polls.
Who are Nishads?
The Nishad community comprises 22 sub-castes, which is a collectively dominant force on the banks of Ganga and Yamuna.
There have been demands by the community to be reclassified from Other Backward Classes (OBC) to Scheduled Tribes category.
Speaking to ThePrint a few days ago, Nishad said he too has discussed this issue with Shah.
“The Nishads comprise between 14 and 17 per cent of the population in districts like Mau, Azamgarh, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Santkabir Nagar and Prayagraj. There are densely populated villages on the banks of the Ganga and Yamuna in UP, inhabited by the Nishads and their vote can impact the result of the polls in the state,” said a functionary in Nishad Party.
He added that the party is preparing to contest on three dozen seats in that region.
“These smaller parties have significant vote bank in east UP. The BJP definitely doesn’t want to lose them,” Shilp Shikha Singh, political analyst and assistant professor at Giri Institute of Development Studies in Lucknow.
“Nishads, Rajbhars, Kurmis, among others, are also significant in several constituencies. In eastern UP, they can swing the election on several seats. So their importance is huge. They can help more if the contest is closer. 10,000-12,000 votes sometimes change the elections.”
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)
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