The Samajwadi Party has officially confirmed the end of its alliance with an eastern UP party whose giant killing act on the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat in the 2018 bypolls cemented Akhilesh Yadav’s alliance or “gathbandhan” with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati had launched a test version of their alliance on the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats by taking on the BJP jointly in bypolls to the seats of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Maurya.

In a result they shocked many, the SP-BSP joint candidates had won both seats.

The victory was astonishing in Gorakhpur, where the Samajwadi Party fielded Praveen Nishad of the Nishad Party, which has support from the OBC Nishad community, on a Samajwadi Party symbol. Mr Nishad managed to defeat the BJP on a seat Yogi Adityanath held continuously for over two decades.

However, the Nishad party now seems set to switch over to the BJP, in what could be a blow to the Akhilesh Yadav-Mayawati-Ajit Singh coalition in Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh Yadav, meanwhile, has announced a new candidate for the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat – a Nishad community leader from his party. 

The developments are in sharp contrast to just two days ago, when Akhilesh held a press conference in Lucknow, with Nishad Party leaders besides him, and announced that the Nishad party would be part of the UP gathbandhan. There was speculation that Praveen Nishad would be given the ticket from Gorakhpur again, but Akhilesh Yadav did not announce it.

But within 48 hours, the Nishad Party chief met with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and told the media his party was not with the gathbandhan anymore. “Akhilesh Yadav had said he’ll make announcement on seats for our party. But they didn’t put our name on poster/letter or anything. My party workers, authorities, core committee were upset,” Mr Nishad said, adding that his party was now free to either contest independently or go with another formation. 

The Nishad Party is no more in alliance with the Samajwadi Party,” Nikky Nishad, also known as Riteash Nishad, media in-charge of the party told news agency PTI in Gorakhpur.

“There was conflict between the two parties on Maharajganj seat as Nishad Party wanted to contest with its own party symbol whereas Samajwadi Party was not ready for it,” he added.

The party workers were not willing to contest on the Samajwadi Party symbol and many of them began quitting, he said. “So, our national president Sanjay Nishadji went to Lucknow and on late Thursday, it was confirmed that the Nishad Party is no more a part of the alliance,” he said.