Gorakhpur: A Pilot, an Actress Among SP's Candidates from Nishad Seats

In the previous elections, the SP had scored a duck in Gorakhpur and had failed to bag a single seat. This time, however, the party has kept caste equations in mind while nominating all nine candidates in the district.

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Lucknow: Out of the nine assembly seats which fall within the Gorakhpur district, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has given two seats each to Nishad, Brahmin and Yadav candidates. In Chauri Chaura, the party has fielded a Dalit Paswan candidate; in Khajani, the SP candidate is a Beldar; and in Bansgaon, a Jatav has been nominated by the party.

In the previous elections, the SP had scored a duck in Gorakhpur and had failed to bag a single seat. This time, however, the party has kept caste equations in mind while nominating all nine candidates in the district. What’s more, four of the nominated candidates defected to the SP recently.

From Chillupar, the SP has fielded sitting MLA Vinay Shankar Tiwari, who had won the last election on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket and recently joined the SP. His father, former minister Harishankar Tiwari, has won six times from the seat. For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former minister Rajesh Tripathi is contesting from the seat who has won from this constituency twice in the past. The BSP has fielded former MLA Rajendra Singh, alias Pehalwan Singh, from the area.

Former MLA Vijay Bahadur Yadav is contesting for the SP from Gorakhpur Rural, who has twice been a BJP MLA from the seat. After a falling out with Yogi Adityanath during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Vijay Yadav resigned from the BJP and drifted towards the SP. Soon after joining, he got his brother to contest the district panchayat president polls, but his nomination was rejected. Angered by this, he sat on a dharna against the erstwhile SP government.

Vijay Yadav contested the 2017 elections in the state on a SP ticket but lost to the BJP’s Vipin Singh in a tough contest. Nishad Party (NP) president Sanjay Kumar Nishad came third with 34,901 votes.

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In Sahjanwa, the SP has fielded Yashpal Rawat, a former MLA who was first elected to the assembly in 2007 but went on to lose the two subsequent elections. Yashpal’s father, Sharda Prasad Rawat, was the MLA from Sahjanwa in 1974, 1977 and 1989 and served as the minister of state for irrigation in Ram Naresh Yadav’s cabinet. Yashpal’s mother, Prabha Rawat, was also elected as the MLA from this constituency in 1993.

Rupvati Beldar, who unsuccessfully contested the previous election on an SP ticket has, once again, been nominated by the party from Khajani. Beldar will be contesting against the BJP’s Shri Ram Chauhan. A minister in the state government, Chauhan had won the last election from the Dhanghata seat in the Sant Kabir Nagar district but has been assigned a different seat after the BJP’s sitting MLA from Khajani, Sant Prasad, was denied a ticket by the party. The BSP has fielded former minister Sadal Prasad’s brother, Vidyasagar, from this area.

From Bansgao, the SP has fielded physician Dr. Sanjay Kumar who had joined the party after unsuccessfully contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls for the Congress.

From the Gorakhpur Urban seat, the SP has fielded Shubhavati Shukla, wife of senior BJP leader, the late Upendra Dutt Shukla, who passed away last year. Upendra Shukla had contested the 2018 Lok Sabha by-election from Gorakhpur on a BJP ticket, but had lost.

Upendra Shukla had contested thrice from the Kauriram assembly constituency (Gorakhpur Rural after delimitation), but suffered defeat. The BJP even denied him a ticket on two occasions. In 2005, after being denied a ticket by the party in the by-election and in favour of Adityanath’s close aide, Sheetal Pandey, Shukla rebelled and contested as an independent candidate. However, both Pandey and Shukla lost the election.

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In Pipraich, the SP has handed the ticket to Amarendra Nishad once again. He is the son of prominent Nishad leader, Jamuna Nishad, who challenged Adityanath thrice in Gorakhpur. Though he did not win, he did give a tough fight on two occasions.

In the 2007 assembly elections, Jamuna Nishad was elected as the MLA from Pipraich on a BSP ticket and was appointed the minister of state for fisheries and military welfare. A year later, he and his supporters reached the Kotwali police station in Maharajganj to demand action from the police in the case of an alleged rape of a girl from the Nishad community. In the scuffle that ensued, shots were fired and a police constable died. A case was subsequently registered against him and others and he was sacked from his ministerial post.

Jamuna Nishad was killed in a road accident in 2010 and in the by-election held after his death, his wife, Rajmati Nishad, contested for the SP and was elected an MLA. She won again in 2012.

Many Nishad candidates fielded from Campierganj

Bhojpuri film and TV actress Kajal Nishad has been fielded by the SP from Campierganj. Having been in the film industry since 2002, Kajal Nishad has worked in TV serials like Chameli, Lapataganj, and Ishq Ka Rang Safed, as well as several Bhojpuri, Gujarati and Marathi serials.

Her husband, Sanjay Kumar Nishad, is a film producer and a resident of Bhauwapar in Gorakhpur. He moved to Mumbai 20 years ago and started working as an interior designer, later joining a news agency before eventually taking acting lessons, after which he started making Bhojpuri films. He has made three Bhojpuri films: Munna Bhaiya, Loha Pehalwan and Takrao.

Kajal Nishad launched her political career back in 2012 when she contested from Gorakhpur Rural on a Congress ticket and came in fourth, with 17,636 votes. During the election campaign, she was attacked by the supporters of BSP candidate Ram Bhulawan Nishad. Cases were registered against Kajal Nishad as well as the BSP leader following the incident. She did not contest the 2017 assembly polls in the state.

Kajal Nishad defected to the SP a few months ago and has been campaigning for the polls in the Campierganj area since. She has been pitted against sitting MLA and former BJP minister Fateh Bahadur Singh, a six-time MLA and the son of former chief minister Veer Bahadur Singh. Fateh Singh was also the state forest minister in the BSP government.

The Congress and the BSP have also fielded Nishad candidates – Surendra Nishad and Chandra Prakash Nishad respectively – from Campierganj.

Nishads, Yadavs and Sainthwars comprise a significant portion of Campierganj’s backward caste population. In the last election, SP-Congress alliance candidate Chinta Yadav came in second, bagging 58,782 votes, followed by BSP candidate Anand Nishad, who got 39,243 votes and the NP’s Mohammad Mainuddin, who received 10,935 votes.

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Meanwhile in the Chauri Chaura constituency, the SP has fielded a fresh face in politics; GoAir polit captain Brijesh Chandra Lal. His father, Harilal Paswan, joined politics after retiring from his bank job and contested elections from Chauri Chaura twice: once in 2007, when he contested on a BSP ticket and managed to come second, and then again in 2012 for the Peace Party, when he only managed to secure 9,438 votes. Lal’s mother was a block chief.

The eldest of four brothers, Lal has been a pilot for 20 years, starting his career with Indian Airlines. He joined GoAir in 2005 and has 20,000 hours of flying experience under his belt. Two of his brothers are also pilots while one is a Provincial Civil Service (PCS) officer.

Lal said that he came in touch with former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and SP president Akhilesh Yadav in 2019. According to Lal, the SP chief constantly nudged him to join politics, asking him to contest form Bansgaon in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, before polls, the SP and the BSP formed a coalition and it was decided that the BSP would field the candidate from the constituency.

This time round, Lal says that Akhilesh Yadav called him three days before the candidates lists were announced and asked him to contest from Chauri Chaura. Lal immediately agreed as he had already made up his mind to join politics and says that he wants to develop Chauri Chaura industrially so that employment opportunities can be created for the youth.

Lal will face Shravan Nishad, the younger son of NP president Sanjay Nishad. Shravan Nishad is also the state president of the party while his elder brother, Praveen Kumar Nishad, is an MP from Sant Kabir Nagar. Praveen Nishad had defeated BJP candidate Upendra Shukla from the Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency in the 2018 by-election.

The BJP’s Sangeeta Yadav was elected from this seat in the last election. Before her, Jai Prakash Nishad of the BSP had won in 2012. He has now joined the BJP and been appointed as a Rajya Sabha member. The BSP has fielded Virendra Pandey while the Congress has fielded Jitendra Pandey.

Among the backward castes, the constituency has a significant population of Nishad and Yadav members whereas the Pasi is the dominant Dalit community in the area.

In the 2017 assembly elections, the SP’s Manurojan Yadav came second with 42,203 votes, followed by the BSP’s Jai Prakash Nishad, who won 37,478 votes and finally, NP candidate Ishwar Chandra Jaiswal, who got 13,048 votes.

Manoj Singh is the editor of Gorakhpur Newsline.

Translated from the Hindi original by Naushin Rehman.