One of the BJP’s national spokespersons, Bizay Sonkar Shastri, has raised questions over his party fielding a member of the Nishad community from Machhlishahar (reserved) Lok Sabha constituency in Jaunpur.
Shastri, a former chairperson of the National Commission for SC/ ST, had been a contender from the same constituency.
Talking to The Indian Express, Shastri said: “I have conveyed my views to the senior party leaders regarding the nomination from Machhlishahar. There is a technical aspect to it (the nomination). As per rules and regulations in UP, Nishads do not fall under the Scheduled Caste but under the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category. Therefore, I have requested the leadership to look into this.”
Shastri, who was also a former MP from the erstwhile Saidpur constituency, however, claimed that he has refrained from taking to the street.
“It is not that I have asked them to take the roads. I have expressed my views within the party forum. As it is, we are soldiers of the party and do not belong to the tribe of people who jump from one party to another in search for the ticket.”
State president of the BJP’s Anusoochit Jaati Morcha (SC cell), Gautam Chaudhary, said: “The issue that he has raised is genuine. Nishads do not fall under the SC category in UP. If, as and when, papers are filed, it may be legally challenged. If the matter has been raised at party forum, there is nothing wrong in it. The final decision, of course, will be taken by the party’s parliamentary board.”
Meanwhile, in Kaushambi, another reserved seat, a group of protesters from one ‘Pasi Mahasangh’ demonstrated near Kokhraj police station, burning effigy of BJP chief Rajnath Singh. The BJP has given ticket to Vinod Sonkar from the constituency.
Anurag Kumar of the Pasi Mahasangh said: “We do not belong to any party but we wanted members from our community to be made candidates. Some office-bearers of the BJP also participated in the protest.”
BJP’s Kaushambi district president, Santosh Patel, said: “If somebody protested at their own level, I am not aware of it. As far as our candidate is concerned, there is no opposition from within the party and we are busy with our campaign.”
Chaudhary said: “It appears that some local disturbing elements have raised the issue. It should be ignored.”
Regional president (Kashi Prant), Lakshman Acharya, said: “The BJP is clear that the candidates will have to be supported. These are initial hiccups. It happens when the names of candidates are announced. The issues will be resolved.”
Earlier, Congress had witnessed protest in Kaushambi, when Bina Rani Saroj, daughter of Masuriyadin, close aide of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, quit the party after the ticket was given to Mahendra Gautam, who did not belong to the Pasi community.