Nitish Kumar Government’s battle for the hearts and minds of the 22 sub-castes denoted as “Maha Dalits” intensified on Saturday with the Maha Dalit Commission formally submitting its report on the socio-economic condition of the Paswan (Dusadh) community.

While it had previously announced distribution of land among the landless members of the Paswan community, the Government will now go all out to provide sops in a move apparently aimed at improving the social status of the Paswans.

It would however, refrain from including the community in the list of Maha Dalits.

In addition, Mr. Kumar also announced that the State Government would soon be setting up separate commissions for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

This manoeuvring is seen by political observers as yet another move to win the confidence of the 16 per cent SC/ST population in the State, ahead of the significant polls due in October this year.

The Maha Dalit Commission, which was constituted by Mr. Kumar in 2007, bemoaned the poor economic, social and education state of the Paswan (Dusadh) community in their report to the State Government.

It, however, has thought it “inappropriate” for the State Government to include the Paswan community in the Maha Dalit list.

As of now, 21 castes have been included in the Maha Dalit schedule based on three reports submitted by the Commission to the State Government.

This is interesting, given Mr. Kumar perilous balancing-act to appease every caste during this crucial Assembly year.

“But we will be dispensing every possible benefit like filling up of backlog posts, provision of loans through co-operatives, distribution of uniforms for school-going children to the backward members of the Paswan community,” said Mr. Kumar.

Mouthing his “inclusive change” refrain, Mr. Kumar reiterated the his government’s commitment towards the development of every section of the society.

“As promised earlier, we will go ahead with our plan of distributing 3 decimals of land among the landless in the community,” Mr. Kumar stated, adding that the government also planned to start residential schools commensurate with the Dusadh population to improve their educational standards.

Responding to Lok Jan Shakti supremo, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan’s sustained diatribe against Mr. Kumar’s actions, the latter wryly remarked that “there was no question of angering Mr. Paswan by giving sops to the their community, since he refused to recognize the word ‘Maha Dalit’.”

Mr. Paswan has consistently demanded obliteration of the term ‘Maha Dalit’ on grounds that it was “unconstitutional” and a move on part of Mr. Kumar to divide the Dalit fraternity.

However, the move smartly attempts to wean Mr. Paswan’s traditional vote-bank away from him without overtly being provocative by including the Dusadhs in the 21 sub-caste schedule.