He finds it difficult to prevent division of secular votes

With the possibility of Muslims going with the RJD-Congress alliance, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is going all out to secure his most crucial vote bank — the Extreme Backward Castes (EBCs) and Mahadalits — in the Kosi and Seemanchal regions. Mr. Kumar has lost his hold among the forward castes after the Janata Dal (U) called off its 17-year alliance with the BJP. Migration of Muslim votes has added to his worries.

The Chief Minister had sought to carve out Pasmanda, a sub-section among Muslims belonging to backward and Dalit castes, hoping that the division would be in his interest. However, he finds it difficult to prevent division of secular votes.

During his eight-year tenure as Chief Minister, Mr. Kumar has been attempting to get the EBCs and Mahadalits on his side. The EBCs comprise 108 castes, accounting for about 30 per cent votes, and the Mahadalits constitute about 13 per cent. Mr. Kumar is relying on these two sections, besides Kurmis, in the next two phases of the Lok Sabha elections — on April 24 and 30 — in which Muslims and Yadavs will together account for a major chunk of the votes.

The battle for the 14 seats is likely to set the agenda for Mr. Kumar’s political standing in the State.