Bihar polls: Nitish Kumar uses time-tested social engineering formula to select JD(U) candidates

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Patna: For the upcoming Bihar assembly elections, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has used the time tested social engineering formula to select JD(U) candidates. The list of JD(U) candidates shows how Nitish Kumar made a sagacious attempt to consolidate his extremely backward castes (EBC) support base while making a dent into RJD’s Muslim-Yadav vote bank.

In accordance with the seat-sharing formula for the 243-member assembly, the JD(U) has got 122 seats but is contesting only 115, leaving the remaining seven for the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is back in the NDA.

Numerically large but disorganised EBCs have found a pride of place in the JD(U) list, with 19 candidates drawn from this social segment, nurtured over the years by Kumar as a bulwark against the RJD.

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Under his social engineering, Nitish Kumar courted this vote bank through welfare measures like sub-quotas for them in government jobs in an attempt to make inroads into RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s once-solid OBC support base. For years the OBCs had almost voted for the RJD en bloc before Kumar parted ways with Lalu Prasad.

Even more conspicuous is the candidature of 19 Yadavs, numerically the largest caste group in Bihar who have, by and large, stood rock solid behind the RJD. Yadav candidates like sitting MLAs Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Poonam Yadav are old JD(U) hands.

New entrants like Chandrika Roy and Jaivardhan Yadav alias ‘Bachcha’ give a clearer idea of the game plan of Kumar, against whom the RJD has been trying to create, with little success, a wave of resentment over the betrayal of mandate a reference to the JD(U) boss winning the 2015 polls in alliance with the RJD but changing course midway and returning to the NDA.

Chandrika Roy, who has been fielded from his pocket borough Parsa, is the father of Aishwarya Roy, who got married to the RJD supremos elder son Tej Pratap Yadav in 2018 but was abandoned by her husband barely six months after tying the knot.

Jai Vardhan, who won Paliganj for the RJD in 2015, walked into the JD(U) camp a couple of months ago. His exit seems to have made things too hot to handle for the RJD which has handed over Paliganj to the CPI(ML) as part of a hurriedly cobbled alliance.

Jai Vardhan Yadav is the grandson of Congress veteran late Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav, a former union minister and the most formidable Yadav leader in Bihar of the pre-Mandal era.

With 18 Yadav and 11 Muslim nominees, the JD(U) also seems to have sought to make a dent into the RJDs famed MY combination, the bedrock of the party’s support base.

Nitish Kumar has also given 12 tickets to Kurmis, the community takes pride in the fact that the chief minister is from amongst them. Of strategic importance, though, is party tickets to 15 Kushwahas, numerically the largest among OBCs after the Yadavs. 

Kurmis and Koeris, the caste name by which Kushwahas are more popularly known, have been seen as political comrades in arms. Their camaraderie has earned them the sobriquet Luv-Kush in the political parlance of Bihar. Attempts have been made by RLSP chief and former union minister Upendra Kushwaha to wean away his caste men from the JD(U) but with hardly any success.

Seventeen tickets have gone to the Scheduled Castes, and the party hopes to offset any Dalit backlash caused by the rebellion of Chirag Paswans LJP with the help of Manjhi.

The JD(U) list comprising 19 candidates from the upper castes, which outrightly rejected the JD(U) when it snapped ties with BJP in 2013, conveyed the message that the party cares for them. After returning to the NDA fold, Nitish Kumar’s party hopes to secure the solid backing of the upper castes.

The JD-U has also given seven seats to Rajputs, whom the party has sought to reach out to with the induction of former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s son Satya Prakash. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, a founding member of the RJD, enjoyed respect across party lines, had resigned from the primary membership a day before his death from post-COVID complications.

The party has also fielded 10 Bhumihars. These include turncoats like Sudarshan Kumar, the sitting MLA from Barbigha, who quit the Congress recently and is the JD(U) candidate from the same seat. Another Bhumihar candidate who has aroused much curiosity is Rajiv Lochan Singh from Mokama, a soft-spoken man with roots in the Sangh Parivar who moves around wearing a tilak and is known by the nickname sadhu baba.

Gupteshwar Pandey denied JD(U) ticket 

Hours after Janata Dal (United) released the first list of 115 candidates for Bihar Assembly Elections 2020, former Director-General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey who has been denied an assembly ticket on Wednesday said that he has experienced a lot of struggle in his life and is dedicated to the people of Bihar.

Last month, Pandey took voluntary retirement and later joined Nitish Kumar`s party. The JD (U) on Wednesday released its list of 115 candidates and denied tickets to 11 of its sitting MLAs while accommodating the turncoats but the name of Gupteshwar Pandey was missing.

“I am upset with the phone of many of my well-wishers. I also understand their anxiety and troubles. After I got free, everyone expected that I will contest the election but I am not contesting assembly elections this time. There`s no such thing as being frustrated. Be patient. My life has been spent in the struggle. I will be serving the public all my life. Please be patient and do not call me. My life is dedicated to the people of Bihar. I bow down to the land of my birthplace Buxar and to all the elder brothers, sisters, mothers and youth of all the caste and religion! Keep your love and blessings,” Pandey said in a Facebook post written in Hindi.

Though Pandey said that he will not contest elections this time, it was being reported that he wanted to contest Bihar Assembly polls from Buxar constituency. The Buxar seat, however, went to the BJP as part of the seat share deal with JD(U).

(With PTI/ANI Inputs) 

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