Gorakhpur: A large crowd gathered on the field near Gaura village in Pipraich on Thursday, after an announcement that the ‘pride of the Nishad community’, Amrendra Nishad, who is contesting on SP ticket, will address the people. “It is a fight for the Nishad votes here. All political parties are trying to win the support of the Nishads and other backward communities to defeat rivals,” said Gopal Sahani, 35.
In the nearby Kalwar- dominated Harakhpur village, a meeting of the BJP candidate Mahendra Pal Singh was in progress. He highlighted the NDA government’s schemes for the welfare of backward communities. “BJP will work for the uplift of Kalwar, Nishad, Loniya and Kushwaha communities,” he said.
On the majority of the seats in Gorakhpur and Azamgarh regions, going to poll on March 4, the backward community vote will be decisive in deciding the fate of the candidates. Hence all parties-- SP, BJP, BSP and Congress-- are busy wooing the backward community voters.
Aware that there is growing disenchantment among the voters toward the mainstream parties, caste outfits like Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal popular as NISHAD Party, Bahujan Mukti Party, Jan Adhikar Party and Peace Party are queering the pitch, fielding candidates on a large number of seats. They are raising the issue of neglect of the backward voters by SP, BSP, BJP and Congress governments.
NISHAD Party president Sanjay Nishad, who is contesting from Gorakhpur Rural assembly seat, said, “There is awakening among the suppressed community that the caste leaders will work for their welfare. The mainstream political parties treat them as vote bank”.
Sanjay who had launched a movement in June 2015 for quota to Nishads in government jobs, has gained the confidence of the community which has sizeable presence in Gorakhpur, Basti, Azamagarh and Mau.
Within two years of launch the NISHAD party has spread its base from Maharajganj on Indo- Nepal border to Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It has entered a pre-poll alliance with Peace Party that enjoys support of the backward among the Muslim community- weavers. Jan Adhikar Party launched by Babu Singh Kushwaha, former aide of BSP chief Mayawati, is trying to win the support of Kushwaha- Koeri community settled in Kushinagar, Salempur, Deoria and Mau.
BSP rebel Daddu Prasad, who has launched Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP), has also fielded candidates on 37 assembly seats. Prasad also hopes to win the support of backward and extremely backward castes. “It’s the backward castes who will decide which party will form government in UP,” he said.
Aware that backward caste outfits are denting its vote bank, the BJP organised roadshow of its national president Amit Shah on Thursday that passed through localities in Rural assembly segment. BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and senior BJP leaders moved with Shah to mobilise the backward voters. The BJP hopes that turncoats Swami Prasad Maurya (who is contesting from Padrauna seat) and Dara Singh Chauhan (who is in fray from Madhuban seat in Mau) will win the support of Maurya and Loniya communities.
The BJP has also entered into a pre-poll alliance with Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party led by Om Prakash Rajbhar to win the support of Rajbhar community that has a sizeable presence in Azamgarh, Ghazipur and Mau districts.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav addressed public meetings in the Nishad and Sainthwar- dominated areas in Maharajganj, Kushinagar and Deoia districts. SP is also depending on the Yadav- Muslim formula to repeat the 2012 assembly performance when it bagged 27 out of the 49 seats on which poll will be held in the sixth phase.
BSP chief Mayawati also played the backward card, assuring the non-Yadav backward voters justice and employment if BSP formed the government.