The repercussions of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s interview to Organiser , in which he called for a review of reservation, are still unfolding in Bihar, with the BJP vowing to make a backward class leader the Chief Minister if the NDA wins the Assembly polls.
Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and prominent Bhumihar leader Giriraj Singh said on Tuesday: “An upper caste [man] cannot become Chief Minister of Bihar; it is certain that if the BJP-led NDA comes to power, the next Chief Minister will be from either the OBCs or the EBCs.”
Both what was said and who said it is significant. Mr. Singh’s declaration is a fallout of a perceived backlash from these classes to Mr. Bhagwat’s interview, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal (U) making political capital out of it.
On Monday, RJD chief Lalu Prasad referred to Mr. Bhagwat’s interview and said the polls were being fought between alliances representing the forward castes (NDA) and the backward castes (his grand alliance with the JD-U).
In choosing Mr. Singh, a prominent upper caste leader, to make this statement was to accord it an aura of consensus in a caste-sensitive State. The declaration, however, puts paid to the ambitions of at least half-a-dozen upper caste contenders for CM in the party.
Damage-control exercise: JD(U)
The BJP’s declaration that the NDA would make an OBC or EBC man the next Bihar Chief Minister if the NDA wins the Assembly polls there, was termed by the JD(U) on Tuesday as a damage-control exercise which was too little too late. “The truth about the BJP’s real inclinations is revealed by the way the party has distributed ticket, with 65 of the 160 seats given to the upper castes. Nobody is fooled,” JD(U) Bihar chief Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu .
The statement of Union Minister Giriraj Singh that an upper caste man cannot become Chief Minister proves that on the ground, caste equations still decide matters.