In Bihar, BJP will strive to break Muslim-Yadav combine

Both fronts are also trying to find a ‘plus factor’ beyond the caste arithmetic.

August 23, 2015 03:20 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:33 pm IST - New Delhi

In the many layered Bihar elections due less than two months away, the opposing sides have already adopted positions that they believe will help unite the electorate in their favour. For the Janata Dal-(United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Congress alliance, it will be Bihari pride and the personality of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar; for the opposing Bharatiya Janata Party-led combine, it will be development of a backward State and Hindutva.

Of course, as in the past, on the ground, caste will play a key role in these elections. Both alliances are working on social combinations that will pay them maximum dividends, whether in their choice of candidates, or in the messages they send out to their particular constituents. But, simultaneously, the two sides, evenly matched as they are, are only too aware they need a binding medium to get them across the finish line. Hence Bihari pride, the JD(U) way, versus development, BJP-style.

The JD (U) alliance’s “Bihari pride” theme was triggered off by a speech made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Bihar, he insisted was still a BIMARU state, sick and backward, while Mr Kumar’s DNA needed to be checked.

Even as the Bihar CM seized on this description of Bihar as an insult, he urged party workers to send DNA samples to Mr. Modi as part of a Shabd Wapsi (take your words back) campaign. Accompanying the samples, the message read: “I am proud of being a Bihari….nothing wrong with my DNA. Doubters can get it checked.” Inset in the Bihari pride theme is Mr. Kumar, pitched as Bihar’s Pride: for while the JD(U) combine is projecting him as its Chief Ministerial candidate, the BJP-led alliance has decided not to announce a CM-candidate, relying on Mr. Modi’s personality to do the trick.

The BJP’s answer is development for Bihar: at a recent rally in Gaya, Mr. Modi announced a Rs. 1.25 lakh-crore package for the poll-bound State, a move BJP leaders believe is a game changer, stressing that it will “counter its rivals’ caste-based campaign.”

Despite this assertion, the BJP-led combine, too, is not just counting on the caste combination it represents, it plans to micro-manage this at constituency-level, to lure in not just the Brahmins and the Bhoomihars, non-Yadav and non-Kurmi OBCs, Paswans, but also a section of the Mahadalits. But the Yadavs in Bihar pegged at almost 18 per cent, the Muslims at 17 per cent, making a M-Y combination formidable.

The BJP, therefore, is working to break this combination: if its attempt to breach the ranks of the Yadavs has been limited to luring the likes of Pappu Yadav.

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