Millennium Post

BJP wooing UP boatmen to sail through LS polls

Lucknow: The BJP seems to be wooing the boatmen of UP to sail through the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising them during his recent Allahabad visit and Amit Shah opting for the river route to attend a party programme in Ghazipur.

According to party leaders, the boatmen community is spread evenly across the state and constitutes nearly 13 per cent of the electorate.

"Some of the major sub-castes of the boatmen community are Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Dhuria, Raikwar, Dheemar, Batham, Manjhi and Saini.

"As far as Lok Sabha seats are concerned, the community can swing the poll fortune in around 20 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state," said UP Backward Class Finance and Development Corporation chairperson Baburam Nishad. Prior to taking up this charge, he was the vice-president of the BJP's Uttar Pradesh unit.

Some other party leaders said the affinity for the boatmen also stem from the fact that it was a Nishad candidate, fielded by the Samajwadi Party, which had defeated the BJP in Gorakhpur bypolls.

"Some of the Lok Sabha seats, where the boatmen and fishermen community could swing the polls are Firozabad, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Kairana, Machhlishahr and Jaunpur," Baburam Nishad said.

In Ghazipur, Phulpur, Sitapur, Jalaun, Fatehpur, Unnao, Gorakhpur, Ballia and Deoria the Nishad community has a significant presence.

Modi, while addressing the Swachh Kumbh, Swachh Aabhaar programme in Allahabad on February 24, had described himself as the boatmen's 'pradhan sevak'.

"Boatmen play an important role during Kumbh. There is a strong relationship between Prayagraj and boatmen. They are the dedicated soldiers of Maa Ganga. Without them, the Ramayana of Lord Ram is incomplete," the prime minister had said. PTI

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