BJP goes all out to counter caste divide

In line with party’s cautious approach, Modi says quota system will not be touched.

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:00 am IST

Published - October 27, 2015 02:13 am IST - ARA (BIHAR):

As campaigning for the third phase of the Bihar Assembly elections winds to a close, the BJP is pulling out all the stops to counter the forward versus backward caste polarisation that is hitting its prospects in the State. Around 50 seats in this round and 55 in the fourth phase mark what strategists in both camps are terming the real contest.

“After agda-pichhcda (forward-backward castes) and Gai-Bachda (cow slaughter issue) in the first two rounds, these phases will see the real fulcrum of contest emerge. These are areas where forward communities are a large part of the electorate and will be a test on whether or not the National Democratic Alliance and mahagatbandhan (Grand Alliance) will see vote transference from allies,” said a senior office-bearer of the BJP.

The rainbow coalition that the NDA struck with the Hindustani Awam Morcha, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and the Lok Janshakti Party has to yield dividends, especially in the third phase.

The LJP is contesting 15 out of its 40 seats in these phases, while HAM is contesting eight out of its 21 seats, and RLSP 6 out of its 23 seats. The Congress, an ally of the Grand Alliance, is fighting 15 out of its 43 seats. More importantly, however, these are seats where the BJP has been trying to make up for the loss of Janata Dal (U)’s voters, backward communities, especially EBCs and Mahadalits through its alliances. “Upper castes are dominant in these parts but it is also the Yadav belt, and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad’s two sons — Tejaswi and Tej Pratap — are in the fray from Raghopur and Mahua respectively. In the 2010 Assembly polls, the break-up of seats in the third phase was somewhat like this — the BJP had 20 seats, the JD(U) 22, and the RJD eight.

The party’s strategy and concerns can be gauged by the fact Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his rallies on Monday emphatically batted for reservation. “The rights given by Babasaheb Ambedkar will never be taken away by my government,” he said, finally reacting on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s interview in late September talking of a relook at the systems of reservation in India. “I come from an extremely backward class and understand the pain of having been born to a poor woman,” he said in a significant speech in Buxar.

Non-Yadav and non-Kurmi leaders from the BJP in Uttar Pradesh have also been pressed into service by the BJP to counter the forward-backward polarisation.

HAM chief Jitan Ram Manjhi told The Hindu that the allies will deliver.

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