With eye on Nishad votes, VIP to install Phoolan Devi’s statues in UP
The Vikashsheel Insaan Party (VIP), a constituent in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, has decided to install the statue of late MP Phoolan Devi in 18 divisions of Uttar Pradesh in the run up to the 2022 assembly elections with an eye on capturing votes of Nishad community, in which Phoolan Devi was born.
The mallah (boatmen) caste popularly known as Nishads and other sub-castes in the Other Backward Communities (OBC) in UP constitute 14% of the state’s population.
The VIP led by Bihar’s animal husbandry minister Mukesh Sahni has got 18 such statues of 18-feet height built.
“Phoolan Devi is still alive in our thoughts for her struggles for the pride and prestige of mothers and sisters. We are celebrating July 25 as her martyrdom day from Bihar to UP and for this we are going to install 18 idols of Phoolan Devi in UP and some in Bihar,” said Sahni explaining the context of the exercise.
“I myself will be present in the programme at Varanasi on July 25 and the party will work to connect with society to realize the dreams of Phoolan Devi across the country,” he added.
UP has a total of 403 assembly seats and over the years, Nishads have emerged as an important electoral constituency there.
Sahni, who had earlier announced that his party will contest on at least 165 assembly seats in UP, said he intends to take forward Phoolan Devi’s dreams. “She wanted to bring the Nishad community on one platform [and ensure that] injustice is not done to them. She wanted them to achieve their position and for that we had also formed the Phoolan Sena. If she would have been alive today, the Nishad community would not have lagged behind,” he said.
Explaining his ambition to expand his party’s influence, Sahni said, “Right now the party is focusing on the 2022 UP elections. We are going to contest elections on 165 seats this time and I am pretty sure we will have more MLAs in Uttar Pradesh and MPs from Bihar, UP, Jharkhand in the 2024 general elections.”
Sahni had earlier hinted to fight UP polls in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2019, the party fought parliamentary polls from three seats in Bihar in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, but drew a blank.