Lucknow : Trouble is brewing for the BJP in the Nishad community that is getting increasingly restive over the reservation issue.
The Nishads were looking forward to an announcement in this regard by the union Home Minister Amit Shah at the joint BJP-Nishad party rally in Lucknow last week.
However, Shah did not even mention the issue of reservation at the rally and after it ended, angry protestors broke chairs and shouted slogans against the BJP.
“Sanjay Nishad promised us that the announcement for reservation would be made in the rally, but we have been duped. Now our stand is clear – no reservation, no vote for BJP”, said Gopichand Nishad, a senior leader from Kaushambhi.
Lautanram Nishad, another rival Nishad leader, said: “Sanjay Nishad has sold off the entire community and has become the member of the UP legislative council on the strength of the community. It is good that our people have seen through his game plan before the elections and now they will teach him and the BJP a lesson.”
Sanjay Nishad was evasive on the issue. “We expected an announcement in the rally. I will talk to the BJP leadership because they have promised me reservation for my community,” he said.
The BJP, according to sources, is wary of making any such commitment before the election since it would open the proverbial Pandora’s box for them.
“If we announce reservation for Nishads, other communities will also come up with similar demands. The Kayasthas are already seeking reservation in the OBC category. Besides, Dalits will also rise in protest because they will find that their quota is being encroached upon by Nishads. We cannot afford this kind of situation when polls are just a few weeks away,” said a senior BJP functionary.
Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav has further queered the pitch for the BJP by saying that if voted to power he would order a caste census and ensure reservation accordingly.
It is noteworthy that the Nishad community has been demanding inclusion and reservation in the scheduled caste category but due to constitutional and political reasons, the issue has been left pending.
Previous government in the state have taken the decision to include 17 OBC castes, including Nishad, in the SC category, but the same was stayed by courts since the issue can be decided only by the Centre.
The courts said that such a decision by the state government was in violation of Article 341 of the Constitution.
In 2005, even during Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime, the order to include 11 OBC castes in the SC category got stuck in the legal grooves. Mayawati was also ready to include these OBC castes in SC but also wanted the reservation quote for scheduled castes to be increased.