LUCKNOW: UP mein sab party haavi ba, Nishad laage sab kar chabhi ba (All parties are dominant in UP but Nishads hold the key) is a popular slogan doing rounds in the political theatre of Gorakhpur and the hinterland which was caught in an intense battle of one-upmanship last weekend.
Battle lines are running deep with CM Yogi Adityanath on one side and SP chief Akhilesh on the other holding the fort for the alliance. The fight, in fact, is over the boatmen community — identified as most backward — as it has a decisive vote in 4-5 constituencies in the Gorakhpur division.
It was the Nishad factor which turned the tables for BJP in Yogiland in the 2018 bypoll.
Yogi Adityanath had been a five-time BJP MP (1998 to 2014) from Gorakhpur, which is the seat of one of the most revered peeths — Gorakshnath temple. Significantly, every time Yogi registered his victory with a bigger margin than the previous one.
In 2018 bypoll, SP fielded Praveen Nishad, son of Dr Sanjay Nishad, chief of NISHAD (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Humara Apna Dal) as the SP candidate whom BSP extended support at the eleventh hour. Nishad emerged victorious, breaking the two-decade dominance of Gorakshnath temple in the area and taking the seat out of the peeth.
BJP’s Upendra Shukla was defeated by a margin of 60,000 votes.
In SP’s victory, the role of Nishad factor came to the fore prominently. Nishads, constitute 3.5 lakh of the total electorate in Gorakhpur.
The total MBC vote share in Gorakhpur constituency is around 29% while Nishad/Kashyap/Mallah/Kahar are around 20%.
All this clearly shows that MBC voters, among whom the Nishad Party has a sizeable presence, could be the defining factor in the polls.
Mulayam forgets to mention BSP
Flanked by son Akhilesh Yadav and cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, SP patriarch Mulayam filed his nomination papers from Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat seeking re-election here for the fifth time.
A seasoned politician, which Mulayam didn’t address a public rally but before filing papers, interacted with media expressing confidence that Samajwadis will walk away with a majority of seats, cautiously keeping silent on the fate of BSP. Thus, once again, he created confusion.
Political circles were speculating if it was his displeasure over alliance with BSP or sheer forgetfulness. The SP patriarch had wished PM Modi a second term in office on last day of Parliament.