Nishad Party’s idea of power

Its founder, Sanjay Nishad, wants better prospects for backward communities

Updated - September 26, 2023 01:06 pm IST

Published - February 28, 2017 12:29 am IST - Gorakhpur

Long way to go: Nishad Party activists at an election meeting in Gorakhpur.

Long way to go: Nishad Party activists at an election meeting in Gorakhpur.

On the edge of Gorakhpur in the working class locality of Rustampur, political workers wearing red caps are gradually filling up a small square of empty land in front of a former pradhan’s home. A cavalcade of cars arrives, jamming the narrow lane: out steps a balding, bespectacled man in a dark suit. The crowd raises a cheer and rushes to garland him.

This is Sanjay Nishad, whose Nishad Party is contesting all seats in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the Peace Party of India of Mohammed Ayub , the Apna Dal (Krishna Patel faction) and the Jan Adhikar Party of Babu Singh Kushwaha, once BSP chief Mayawati’s right-hand man. In some seats, this alliance, representing the backward communities of Nishads, Kurmis, Kushwaha and Muslims, can play spoilsport for the BJP, the BSP and the SP-Congress alliance that are locked in a triangular fight. Of the four, the Nishad Party has shown the most potential, particularly in eastern Uttar Pradesh. If the party represents the Nishads, Kewats, Binds, fisher-folk and boatmen, its name is also an acronym — Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal (Nishad), or “Our common weak and exploited Indian party”.

Conscious how difficult it is to make an electoral breakthrough, the Nishad Party has given ticket to rebels and musclemen from the three other formations.

Tactical moves

But these are just tactical moves by Dr. Nishad, a former Kanshi Ram protege, who left the BSP to start the Nishad Party. “This party has been created for those who have so far been deprived of the benefits and taste of power,” he says.

To bring Mulayam Singh and Mayawati to power, Nishads, Muslims and other extremely backward communities, he says, played their role. But “when it came to filling government vacancies and appointments at police stations, most jobs went to the Yadavs. Those are the benefits of power.”

Elaborating what he means by the “taste of power”, he explains, “If you ask Nishad or Muslim schoolchildren whether they will get a job when they grow up, they will say that they are studying, but don’t know about the future. When an educated Nishad or Muslim doesn’t get a job, their younger siblings feel there is not much point acquiring any education.”

If his coalition wins some seats who will it support? “ ... whoever promises to give the communities we represent a designated share in the OBC quota,” he says. “But we are clear we will not support the BJP because it is opposed to reservation.”

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