Congress is a Sinking Ship, Says BJP-Allied Nishad Party Chief in Poll-Bound India's Uttar Pradesh
With assembly elections in India’s largest state in terms of population, Uttar Pradesh, just six months away, political parties are getting ready. They are also exploring every possibility of forming an alliance with like-minded parties to boost their chances of winning the maximum number out of the total 403 seats.
The electoral fight has gained momentum in India's Uttar Pradesh state. The opposition is ready to take on the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the latter is highlighting the accomplishments of its government over the years under state chief Yogi Adityanath.
Although the state's key opposition parties include the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Congress, it is various local small parties that hold a significant sway at many places in different communities. These parties are expected to play a vital role in the upcoming polls.
These smaller parties have also started formulating plans on how to be more useful for their allies during the upcoming polls.
The Nishad Party, one of the political allies of the governing BJP, has been at the forefront of upping its ante on various issues against the main opposition -- the Samajwadi Party, and others.
Sputnik spoke to Dr Sanjay Nishad, the chief of the Nishad Party, in an interview to explore various issues, including a recent controversy and, more importantly, his party's strategy ahead of the legislative polls.
Claiming his Nishad community holds influence over 160 seats, the leader stressed that the BJP is the best bet in Uttar Pradesh, since other parties have already duped them in the past.
Sputnik: The Nishad Party recently desired to secure a deputy state chief post for itself in the Uttar Pradesh government. Has there been any further discussion with the BJP about this?
Dr Sanjay Nishad: A deputy state chief from the Nishad Party was just a suggestion from our community and it was not a demand.
Our demands have been about reservation and social justice for the Nishad community. Along with this, we also want all river banks and the control of water bodies to be restored to the community. If all these demands are met, we are ready to work on any respectable seat-sharing formula with the BJP.
Sputnik: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress' general secretary, has been trying to woo the Nishad community for a while. Do you think you may consider joining hands with Congress in case your party is given ample representation to contest in the upcoming polls?
Dr Sanjay Nishad: Everyone wants to stand with those who are competent and in power. The BJP is in power and it has competent leaders while Congress is dying out in the country. In Uttar Pradesh its existence is already finished. The Congress is a sinking ship and I don’t think anyone would like to hop on it.
When Congress was in power, it was busy looting the country. They didn’t think about the Nishad community; now they are talking about it because elections are scheduled. Congress has always preferred Dalits (members of the Dalit community) and ignored other communities. So, we know it is just due to the polls that Congress is trying to appease the community.
Sputnik: An Indian media outlet recently published a video showing you talking of selling your share of seats for money and making remarks about state chief Yogi Adityanath. What do you have to say about that?
Dr Sanjay Nishad: I made it very clear the same day that the video is fabricated. It is a conspiracy against me and my party. I have already served a notice to those who made that video.
This happens every time when someone from a lower caste comes into mainstream politics, some people try to pull them back by doing such conspiracies. Why is there no sting operation conducted on those who have looted the country in the last 70 years?
The Nishad Party is the party of those who have been deprived of basic rights and I will continue to fight for them.
Sputnik: Is it because of the publication that you have decided to be with the BJP, or do you have a better justification for forming an alliance with it?
Dr Sanjay Nishad: As I stated earlier, the whole sting operation is concocted and forged. Forming an alliance with the BJP is not related to this sting operation. There are other reasons due to which we are backing up the BJP.
11 August, 11:38 GMT
The Nishad Party was formed because our community has been on the margins for about the last 70 years (since Indian independence in 1947).
I was a doctor by profession, but when I saw the plight of the people of the Nishad community, I decided to enter mainstream politics.
I believe that political power is stronger than God's power and in today’s scenario, 90 percent of those who have academic knowledge but no political knowledge are the victims of politics, whereas only 10 percent of them are participants.
Congress ruled the country for 70 years but did nothing for our community. Our demand was to give reservations to the people of our community. But Congress leaders Kumari Selja and Mukul Wasnik, who served as the federal ministers for social justice and empowerment, messed up with the file regarding the reservation.
This information was revealed in a Right to Information (RTI) application. I have even registered a case against them at the parliament street police station in New Delhi.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also didn’t do anything for our community when they were in power.
We organised several protests raising the demand for reservations and only the current Uttar Pradesh state chief stood by us. He was the one person who said the Nishad community should get the reservation. We want to be listed under the Scheduled Caste category and not under the Backward Class.
The BJP is ready to take this up. Therefore, we are in an alliance with it.
Sputnik: You recently met top BJP leaders Amit Shah and party president J.P. Nadda. What key demands did you raise during that meeting?
Dr Sanjay Nishad: There were no specific demands as such. We have always stood firm on our demand for reservations and social justice for the Nishad community. Both the senior leaders of the BJP listened to our demand and assured that the state in-charge of the upcoming assembly elections, Dharmendra Pradhan, will take up the issues in the state. Soon, we will meet him also.