The Bihar Assembly elections may be more than six months away, but the major political parties in the State have begun gunning for the crucial ‘Maha Dalit’ vote-bank.

The Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) held a “Dalit unity” rally here in December last. At a “Maha Dalit Unity” rally, organised by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) here on Sunday, Janata Dal (United) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar urged the Maha Dalit community to remain united and vigilant against divisive forces.

“Please do not think that our government is doing you a great favour by launching so many development schemes for your benefit. It is your right after having suffered centuries of oppression,” he said.

Attacks Paswan

In a veiled reference to LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan, Mr. Kumar said: “There is this leader who is bent on defaming me and who asks for my resignation practically every day. I would appeal to these people to stop indulging in baseless slander and instead engage in some constructive work for the uplift of the Backward Classes.”

As of now 21 Backward Castes, with the exception of the Paswan community, have been included in the Maha Dalit caste list.

Mr. Kumar reiterated the government’s desire to include the Paswan community in the list to enable it to avail itself the benefits given to Maha Dalits.

“We have no intention of leaving anybody out. In fact, it is my fervent wish that a study of the Paswan community be carried out so as to pinpoint the avenues for their development,” he said.

Referring to the recent constitution of the Maha Dalit Development Committee, Mr. Kumar said the State government had appointed ‘Vikas Mitras’ to oversee the development of the community.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi also spoke.