BJP-NISHAD party alliance to continue for 2022 UP polls

LUCKNOW: Ending wild speculations about their blow-hot-blow-cold ties, the BJP and Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Apna Dal (NISHAD) on Friday formally announced that their alliance would continue for the crucial UP assembly elections due in the next few months.
The development that marked saffron party’s strategy to amalgamate the electorally significant Nishad community which accounts for around 15% of the OBC bloc — came about in the presence of Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan during his first visit to UP after being appointed as BJP’s UP election in charge. Pradhan himself happens to be a prominent OBC face in the Narendra Modi cabinet.
“We reiterate our being together for the forthcoming UP elections,” announced Pradhan, while addressing a press conference at UP BJP office. Flanked by UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh and NISHAD party chief Sanjay Nishad, Pradhan said that the seat-sharing formula with the ally partner has already been finalised and would be announced “at an appropriate time”. BJP vice-president and party’s UP in charge, Radha Mohan Singh and cabinet minister Sidharthnath Singh, who is learnt to have been acting as a bridge between Sanjay Nishad and the BJP leadership, were also present.
While Pradhan refused to give further details, speculations were rife about BJP agreeing to give anything between three to four seats in east UP where the Nishad and associated 15 sub-castes community have a substantial electoral presence. The BJP could further accommodate Sanjay Nishad by nominating him to the UP legislative council. Sanjay, as a matter of fact, has been demanding many more seats while making claims about his party having a significant electoral base in at least 60 seats.
Pradhan said that the BJP was in touch with other smaller parties too and would bring them on board. “Politics is a dynamic process and requires assimilation of different political groups,” he said, while speaking to TOI. He further asserted that the BJP would groom leaders of various caste groups within the party while following the principle of “Samajik Samrasta” (social harmony).
The coming together of the two parties, comes after days of consistent parleys between Sanjay Nishad and senior BJP leaders including party national president JP Nadda and Home minister Amit Shah in Delhi. As Sanjay flexed political muscles to bargain hard with the BJP — he once demanded being announced as deputy CM candidate of the alliance — the saffron outfit held on to its nerves. Notably, Nishad’s aggression diminished dramatically following a purported sting operation which portrayed him in a bad light vis-a-vis a senior BJP leader.
The coming together of BJP and NISHAD party is also seen as a sharp counter to a SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar — a former ally of BJP — who is learnt to be attempting to cobble up an alliance with Bihar’s Mukesh Sahni-led Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) which, too, has its politics centered around Nishad community. Sahni, who is a minister in Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, has been sensing the pulse of politically crucial UP and has been coming to the state frequently.
In 2017 assembly elections, NISHAD party had contested 72 seats but managed to win just one — Vijay Mishra won from Gyanpur — while garnering 3.58% vote share of the total seats contested. Sanjay Nishad managed to register his presence when his 31-year-old son, Praveen, contested as a BSP-backed SP candidate during 2018 bypolls in Gorakhpur, the seat vacated by Yogi Aditynath after taking reins of UP as its CM, and defeated the BJP candidate Upendra Dutta Shukla by a margin of 21,961 votes. The BJP, however, managed to win over the NISHAD party and successfully fielded Praveen Nishad as a BJP candidate from Sant Kabir Nagar during 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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