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Polls ahead in Bihar, so “yatras” are here

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar flagging off ‘Aman Rath' in Patna on Wednesday.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar flagging off ‘Aman Rath' in Patna on Wednesday.

Shoumojit Banerjee

Patna: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's much vaunted refrain of transcending caste-based politics seems to have taken a backseat in this crucial Bihar Assembly election year with a slew of “confidence yatras” and “raths” designed to appease different castes and communities hitting the political horizon with a vengeance.

The ruling Janata Dal (United) has ensured there is something for everyone -- women, minorities, backward classes, upper castes, Maha Dalits, you name it! After Mr. Kumar's “Vishwas Yatra” which took off from West Champaran this past Thursday, the Janata Dal (United) will be undertaking seven such “yatras” to woo every caste and community.

The “Karpoori Rath”, named after the erstwhile Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, will be launched with the purpose of reinforcing the positive work done by the government in the minds of the extremely backward communities (EBCs).

More theatrics will follow in the EBC sphere with JD (U) leader and RJD defector Bhim Singh all set to launch his “Dhanyavad Yatra” to thank Mr. Kumar for his efforts to improve the lot of the EBCs.

Next in line is “Aman Yatra”, targeted at Muslims to remind them of the riot-free atmosphere generated by Mr. Kumar during his four-year term as CM.

Women, too, have a customised offering in the form of “Swavlamban (Self-reliance) yatra”, which will dwell on various steps undertaken by the NDA government for their uplift during the last four and a half years.

Same is the case with “Nirbhay Rath” targeted at the Vaishya (Bania) community to “remind” the State's traders of the commerce-friendly law and order situation created by the ruling party.

“The yatras are necessary to check the vicious disinformation campaigns undertaken by the Opposition,” JD (U) State president Vijay Choudhary had remarked earlier.

“These tactics are designed to quell dissent within the party as well as keep its functionaries engaged in this crucial election year. Naturally it is also to prevent the inevitable horse-trading that is bound to follow before the polls,” says Akhilesh Kumar, a senior political observer.

Meanwhile, the anti-Nitish dissident lobby, prominent among whom is ex-JD (U) state president Rajiv Ranjan Lallan Singh, will be launching a “Kisan Maha Panchayat” on May 9 with the aim of inciting the upper castes against Mr. Kumar, especially on the latter's proposed action to give tenancy rights to ‘bataidars' (sharecroppers).

Among the Opposition parties, only the Congress has started something of this kind so far, with its 50-day “Parivartan Yatra (Journey for Change)” taking off in February this year.

The event, launched with State-in charge Jagdish Tytler and State unit president Anil Kumar Sharma mouthing a litany of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad's past crimes and misdemeanours and lashing out at the NDA government, already seems to have lost its steam with severe internal wrangling paralysing it.


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