In the Nishad versus Nishad politics that is gaining ground in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has started promoting its Rajya Sabha MP Jai Prakash Nishad.
Nishad has been appointed state convener of fishermen’s cell in the UP unit.
The move is apparently designed to counter the assertive Nishad party president Sanjay Nishad, who has been driving a hard bargain with the BJP leadership in the run-up to the Assembly elections next year.
The BJP has been swiftly shifting gears to take on the Nishad party chief, more than a month after he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J.P. Nadda and sought the post of deputy chief minister for himself and a berth in the union cabinet for his son Pravin Nishad, who is a BJP MP from Sant Kabir Nagar.
The Nishad vote is about 18 percent of the total OBC population in Uttar Pradesh and has a sizeable presence in about 160 Assembly constituencies.
Pravin Nishad, incidentally, had won a Lok Sabha by-election in Gorakhpur in 2018 on a Samajwadi ticket, defeating the BJP candidate. The seat had fallen vacant after Yogi Adityanath resigned from Lok Sabha when he became the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
The BJP has now directed Jai Prakash Nishad to travel to the Nishad dominated constituencies in the state and convince the community and its sub-castes to vote for the BJP.
The Nishad community, along with 16 other sub-castes including Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Tura, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar, Dhivar, and Machua have been seeking inclusion in SC list.
“The socio-economic status of Nishads is not better than that of Dalits though they have a strong political presence in east UP,” said Sanjay Nishad.