The BJP on Tuesday nominated former Gorakhpur MLA Jai Prakash Nishad for the by-election to a Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Samajwadi Party’s Beni Prasad Verma, a prominent OBC leader of eastern UP.
Nishad was earlier with the BSP and was considered close to party chief Mayawati. He was also a minister in her government between 2007 and 2012, and represented Chauri Chaura Assembly constituency but lost the seat to the BJP in the 2017 Assembly polls. However, in February 2018, just before the bypolls to the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, Nishad joined the BJP.
While the BJP candidate — Upendra Shukla — lost to the SP nominee who was backed by the BSP, Nishad rose in the party ranks as he actively campaigned for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and was later given organisational responsibility too.
He is currently regional vice-president of the BJP’s Gorakhpur region unit and considered close to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. On Tuesday, after his candidature was announced, Nishad visited Gorakhnath Temple to offer prayers and met Adityanath.
Nishads, a part of the OBC community, wield a strong political influence in east UP, especially in the region between Gorakhpur and Varanasi.
Sources in the BJP said that by sending a leader from the community to the Rajya Sabha, the party is trying to establish a strong Nishad leadership in the region ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls.