In what could be a blow to the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the underdog who defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's Gorakhpur in the 2018 Lok Sabha bypolls may switch over to the BJP.
For the 2018 bypolls, Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati jointly fielded alliance candidates on the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, held by chief minister Yogi Adityanath continuously for over two decades, and his deputy Keshav Maurya. And in a shock result, both the candidates won leading to the strengthening of the SP-BSP alliance.
The victory was astonishing in Gorakhpur, where the Samajwadi Party fielded Praveen Nishad of the Nishad Party, an eastern Uttar Pradesh grouping with support from the OBC Nishad community, on a Samajwadi Party symbol. Praveen Nishad's father Sanjay heads the Nishad Party. Earlier this week, Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav held a press conference in Lucknow, with Nishad Party leaders besides him, and announced that the Nishad party would be part of the UP gathbandhan.
Speculations were rife that Praveen Nishad would again be given the Gorakhpur seat, but SP chief Akhilesh Yadav made no such announcement. Miffed over the delay in the seat-sharing arrangement, the Nishad Party decided to pull out of the coalition. Sources also say the Nishad Party is angry at not getting the Gorakhpur seat despite them getting the shock victory there.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad said, "Akhilesh Yadav had said he will make announcement on seats for our party. But they did not put our name on poster/letter or anything. My party workers, authorities, core committee were upset".
"So the Nishad party has taken a decision today that we are not with the 'gathbandhan', we are free, can fight elections independently," he added.
In what could be seen as a possible opportunity for a tie-up with other political biggies, Nishad also stated that they can look for other options as well.
The Nishad Party is no more in alliance with the Samajwadi Party," Nikky Nishad, also known as Riteash Nishad, media in-charge of the party told news agency PTI in Gorakhpur.
"There was a conflict between the two parties on Maharajganj seat as Nishad Party wanted to contest with its own party symbol whereas the Samajwadi Party was not ready for it," he added.
The party workers were not willing to contest on the Samajwadi Party symbol and many of them began quitting, he said. "So, our national president Sanjay Nishad ji went to Lucknow and on late Thursday, it was confirmed that the Nishad Party is no more a part of the alliance," he said.
(With PTI inputs)