New Delhi: “The importance of the Nishad community can be gauged by the fact that we have bagged three seats in the grand alliance,” said Mukesh Sahani, the Mallah community leader, after the grand alliance announced its seat-sharing agreement on Friday. The opposition alliance in Bihar declared candidates for all the 40 seats.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will contest from 20 seats and the Congress from nine. The alliance also has Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) contesting from five seats.
Sahani’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) will contest from three seats each. The seat sharing agreement will also see the RJD give one seat from its own kitty to the CPI (ML).
Sahani founded the VIP on November 4, 2018, with the aim of securing reservations for Mallahs, who are descendants of the traditional boatmen and fishing community.
Between the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, Sahani always chose the latter. He had supported Narendra Modi’s campaign in Bihar ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was able to help him get three Lok Sabha constituencies — Samastipur, Darbangha and Madhubani.
“I was there with BJP President Amit Shah in 41 rallies. I lent them support because I wanted reservations for my community. But we were cheated,” said Saini. “Our vote will not split because the government did nothing to fulfil our demands for reservations.”
Last year, Sahani had told News18 that the Nishad community should be given reservation in Bihar since it has quotas in West Bengal and Delhi. Since Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand were part of a single state before independence, all sections of the community should benefit from reservation regardless of which state they lived in.
Sahani said he had sent such a proposal to the central government, after which the state government prepared an ethnography report and submitted it to the Centre.
“But nothing happened after that move. In this election, the community will show its power,” said Sahani. “We have great influence in north Bihar, we have influence over 22 seats. With our groundwork, we can easily sway lakhs of votes in favour of the grand alliance.”