Supporters of former Samajwadi Party MP and slain bandit Phoolan Devi have formed an outfit to “unite” members of most backward castes (MBCs) to contest the Assembly elections next year.
While the outfit’s president, Pappu Nishad, has ruled out getting ‘Phoolan Devi Jan Jagaran Sena’ registered as a political party, he said its workers will “support” those who offer them tickets or the party whose maximum candidates are from the MBCs.
The outfit emerges in the wake of JD(U) and RLD forming an alliance to thwart electoral chances of SP and BJP, who have, for the past few months, been busy making strategies to attract voters from the backward castes.
Headquartered in Lucknow, the outfit has set up district units in Hamirpur, Lalitpur, Jhansi, Fatehpur, Unnao, Jalaun, Hathras, Agra, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Rampur, Aligarh and Shahjahanpur, said Nishad. The outfit had recently organised conventions in Lucknow where its workers resolved to take out state-wide ‘rath yatras’ from May onwards to reach out to “nearly five lakh households” before the elections. The chief said his outfit will attempt to mobilise people belonging to communities like Nishad, Kashyap, Mallah (boatmen) – all MBCs – and attempt to unite them in order to prevent their exploitation by political parties like SP, BSP, BJP and Congress. Phoolan Devi belonged to Mallah community.
Nishad said his outfit is formed by members of ‘Eklavya Sena’ – an organisation formed by Phoolan Devi herself and of which he was the district president of its Thane unit in Maharashtra.
“After her (Phoolan’s) assassination in 2001, I took charge as the UP state president of Eklavya Sena. I left that organisation because her husband, Umed Singh, was not interested in running the organisation. Most of the members of ‘Phoolan Devi Jan Jagaran Sena’ are former workers of Eklavya Sena. Our members include lawyers, journalists and people from other sections of the society who came in contact when Mummy ji (Nishad claims Phoolan and Umed regarded him as their son) was a Lok Sabha member,” he said.
The outfit holds against the ruling party its alleged “failure” in getting ordered a CBI inquiry into the MP’s murder.
“Mulayam Singh Yadav had promised a CBI inquiry. But he forgot the promise upon coming to power despite the fact that she (Phoolan) was twice elected MP from Mirzapur as the party’s candidate,” Nishad said.
He alleged that the ruling dispensation in the state failed in giving “due regard” to Kevats, Nishads and Kashyaps as none of these castes have any representation in the state Cabinet.
He accused BSP and other political parties, too, of “exploiting” voters of the backward castes and said workers have resolved to strengthen the organisation by associating maximum people from MBCs so that “political parties show respect to them and offer them tickets in the elections”.