Dhananjay Singh, former BSP MP, is contesting Malhani Assembly seat in Jaunpur as a NISHAD candidate.
Lucknow: The Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal may sound rather complicated, especially if it is the name of a newly launched political party.
Its acronym NISHAD, on the other hand, strikes an instant chord with the masses, least because it is also the name of one of the 17 prominent OBC castes to be included in the Scheduled Caste category, but more so because its list of candidates contesting the ongoing Assembly polls in UP has many politicians sit up and take note.
“The party represents the aspirations of most backward castes including Kewat, Bind, Mallah, Manjhi, Kushwaha and backward Muslims. We have been duped by parties like SP and BSP and this time we are trying our luck in alliance with other smaller parties. However, we are not completely averse to upper castes,” says Sanjay Nishad, the party’s founder and a former BSP leader.
What makes NISHAD stand out is that it gave tickets to two non-OBC candidates who are better known for their muscle power.
Dhananjay Singh, former BSP MP, is contesting Malhani Assembly seat in Jaunpur as a NISHAD candidate. A controversial Thakur politician, Dhananjay was denied ticket by the BSP at the last minute. He is a strong contender and could help NISHAD make a debut in the state Assembly.
Its other candidate, Vijay Misra, was similarly denied ticket by the Samajwadi Party, paving way for his Assembly bid from Gyanpur seat in Bhadohi constituency.
A three-term MLA, Vijay says he is grateful to NISHAD for making him their candidate. Sanjay Nishad defends his decision when he asks, “Had Dhananjay Singh and Vijay Misra not been our candidates, would you (media) have been writing about NISHAD? It is because of these two candidates that my party is coming into the limelight.”
The inclusion of the community of boatmen in the Scheduled Caste category had been hanging fire since 2005, when the then CM, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had sent the proposal to the Centre. The matter went to court and was stayed on the ground that the state did not have the necessary power to categorise caste lists.
“The Nishad community, which constitutes about 14 per cent of the state’s population, mostly lives along the rivers in UP. And so the Prime Minister’s decision to build jetties along the Ghats in Varanasi so that people could watch ‘Ganga aarti’ will leave many of us jobless. That is why we have fielded a candidate in candidate,” he explained.