A move to sow seeds of divisiveness among Dalits: Ram Vilas Paswan

In a significant overture to woo the Paswan community, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday announced that the State government would shortly begin distributing land to landless members among the Paswan (Dusadh) community.

As of now, 21 backward castes, with the exception of the Paswan community, have been included in the Maha Dalit caste list under the Maha Dalit Committee set up by Mr. Kumar to identify the most backward castes among the Dalits.

The move means that every landless member of the Paswan community will receive three decimals of land as decided by the Bihar government in their land allocation procedures regarding Maha Dalits.

Mr. Kumar also expressed concern for women in the Paswan community and said appropriate steps for their welfare would be taken up soon.

“We believe in practising the politics of unity,” said Mr. Kumar. Alluding to Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) party supremo Ram Vilas Paswan, Mr. Kumar said that some leaders were “living under false illusions that he was interested in dividing the Dalit fraternity.”

“Our credo is to strive for the equality and integration of every section of society. This is only proper as it is in keeping with Bihar's changing image of a progressive State,” said Mr. Kumar.

Break-up

The four castes — Dusadh, Pasi, Dhobi and Chamar — constitute 69 per cent of the Dalit population in the State, of which the Ravidas and Dusadh (Paswan) castes form 31.34 per cent and 30.88 per cent.

The Dusadh community is more literate among the other Scheduled Castes in the State, with a literacy rate of 25.62 per cent.

Speaking to The Hindu from his constituency Hajipur, Mr. Paswan said: “Mr. Kumar is trying to sow the seeds of divisiveness among the Dalit fraternity.”

“He is playing with a live electric wire,” Mr. Paswan said. “He [Nitish] first insulted the Dalit community by inventing and then thrusting the abusive nomenclature of Maha Dalit upon them.”

Mr. Paswan said his original demand to the Bihar government was that every Dalit be given one bigha of land, and not a mere three decimals.

“Earlier, he [Nitish] had included 18 castes. Now, he is slyly trying to secure the goodwill of the educated Dalit castes. But his scheming will not give him much political mileage,” he warned.