Lucknow: Hours after the Samajwadi Party MP from Gorakhpur Praveen Kumar Nishad joined the BJP on Thursday, SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav termed it as a 'ghaatey ka sauda' (loss-making deal) for the saffron party and also alleged that money changed hands.
Akhilesh Yadav said that in the by-poll held last year, the people of Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency had voted for the SP-BSP alliance and not for Praveen Nishad. "This is BJP's loss making deal as people had voted for the grand alliance (SP-BSP) and not the parliamentarian (Praveen Nishad)," Akhilesh Yadav tweeted in Hindi.
The SP chief insinuated that Nishad switched over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in return for a bag of 'prasad' (cash) from the 'mathadheesh' (head priest) of Gorakhnath temple, referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He, however, did not substantiate the charge. "Will the Gorakhpur MP who got a bag full of 'prasad' from the mathadheesh distribute it among others or devour it alone?," asked Akhilesh Yadav using his hashtag #VikasPoochhRahaHai in his tweets to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his development claims. "It is certain that the boat of the brothers will sink in the elections," he said in an apparent reference to Praveen Nishad and Adityanath.
Nishad joined the BJP in the presence of senior leader and Union minister J P Nadda who introduced him before media persons as a political figure who wields considerable influence in his region. Nadda said that the Gorakhnath parliamentarian had joined the saffron party due to his faith in the policies of the Modi government.
Praveen Nishad, whose father Sanjay Nishad is the head of the Nishad Party, had emerged victorious in the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-poll last year, after the SP and the BSP joined hands to take on the BJP. Though he had contested on an SP ticket, differences grew between Sanjay Nishad and the SP as it wanted him to contest again on its symbol while he wanted to fight as a Nishad Party candidate. The BJP has not yet announced its candidate for Gorakhpur, the political turf of Adityanath. The saffron party may bank on Nishad to reclaim its bastion.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party on Saturday named another Nishad community member as its candidate from the coveted seat. Ram Bhuwal Nishad, the SP candidate, has been a two-time MLA from Kaudiram Assembly seat, now Gorakhpur rural, and was the fisheries minister during BSP chief Mayawati's government in 2007.
Last week, the Nishad Party-- headed by Praveen Nishad's father Sanjay-- had pulled out of the the SP-BSP-RLD 'mahagathbandhan' in Uttar Pradesh. The Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal (Nishad Party) was formed in 2016 to empower Nishads, Kewats, Binds and other communities, whose livelihoods are dependent on rivers. Members of these communities are mostly boatmen or fishermen, and are demanding Scheduled Caste status.
Nishad Party had fielded 100 candidates in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election in alliance with the Peace Party, the Apna Dal (Krishna Patel faction) and the Jan Adhikar Party. Nishad Party candidate Vijay Mishra had won Gyanpur seat in Bhadohi district.
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