Patna, Oct 1 (IANS): Bihar is a place where small and big parties depend on caste and hence the political leaders of the state are always looking for the right permutations and combinations to keep their vote bank intact.
Some of them are using it to strengthen their position while many political parties are using it to damage their opponents.
As is well known, the Lalu Prasad Yadav led RJD has a sizable vote bank of Muslims and Yadav. Nitish Kumar's JD-U has a Lav-Kush equation (Kurmi-Kushwaha) while the BJP in Bihar has a core vote bank of upper castes and Banias (traders community).
The latest case of vote bank politics was triggered by a poem of RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha. Don turned politician Anand Mohan caught it and connected it with Thakurs' pride.
After being released from jail in the Gopalganj DM G Krishnaiah murder case, Anand Mohan was looking for an issue to establish himself as a leader of the Rajputs. He took Manoj Jha’s poem and twisted it in a manner to give the impression that he is the only leader on whom the people of the Rajput caste could depend.
At present, there are not many prominent Rajput leaders in Bihar. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, a senior Rajput leader, has passed away. Bahubali leader Prabhunath Singh was convicted in a murder case and is serving a jail term.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Janardan Singh Sigriwal have been sidelined by the BJP, Jagadanand Singh has handed over his political legacy to his son Sudhakar Singh. So, Anand Mohan realized that Manoj Jha's poem could be the right instrument to establish himself as the leader of his Rajput caste.
Anand Mohan’s son made it an issue 5 days after Manoj Jha mentioned the poem called “Thakur Ka Kuan” during the special session of Parliament, but the real reason was the embarrassment Anand Mohan had faced at former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi's residence a few days ago. Anand Mohan waited for 10 minutes outside the gate of Rabri Devi's residence but her husband Lalu Prasad reportedly refused to entertain him.
Though, the RJD later clarified that Lalu Prasad conveyed the message to officials at the gate to bring him in but by that time Anand Mohan had left. Sources said that Mohan wants a Lok Sabha ticket for his wife Lovely Anand from Sheohar, Saharsa, Vaishali or Arrah.
Anand Mohan Singh sharply attacked Manoj Jha and compared him with fitkari (alum).
“One Fitkiri (Manoj) Jha) is here who does not want the Marshall community to get united. Hence he is making statements like this. If I were in the Rajya Sabha, I would cut his tongue,” Singh said.
“He is an agent of the BJP. Once the RJD becomes weak in Bihar, he would be the first to go to the BJP. I know his uncle as well. He won the election on a ticket of the Samajwadi Party but when he saw the Congress forming the government at the Centre, he went there. Fitkiri Jha will do the same,” Anand Mohan said.
Following this stance of Anand Mohan, senior BJP leaders like Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Neeraj Kumar Bablu and Sanjay Singh went a step further and warned Manoj Jha. Raghvendra Pratap threatened to behead Jha.
This stance of Anand Mohan was well understood by the BJP. The saffron brigade knew that if Anand Mohan established himself as a Rajput leader, a sizable vote bank of the party would be taken away by him. Hence, BJP leaders desperately tried to keep intact their upper caste vote bank.
The RJD is in the crosshairs of Anand Mohan and the BJP but in the long run, this controversy would not affect the party of Lalu Prasad Yadav. His son Tejashwi Yadav may talk about A to Z but the upper castes will not go with the RJD and Lalu Prasad is well aware of it.
Lalu Prasad defended Manoj Jha and said he had not given wrong statements to hurt any caste or community.
“Manoj Jha is a learned person. He has not given any statement that is objectionable. The poetry of Manoj Jha has not hurt any caste or community. He has not targeted any one. He has pointed out the right things in public. Anand Mohan should show patience on this issue,” Lalu Prasad said.
JD-U national president Lalan Singh also defended Jha and said that he had not made any statement that would hurt any caste or community.
Political analysts said that the Nitish Kumar government had changed the jail manual of Bihar to release Anand Mohan but the actual idea was to hurt the upper caste vote bank of the BJP. It was a revenge move of Nitish Kumar to hurt the BJP. The BJP had used the Chirag Paswan led LJP as a Vote Katwa in the 2020 assembly election and the JD-U could get only 43 seats.
Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad also went for a caste based survey in Bihar. It has almost been completed and will soon come in the public domain.
The majority of the political parties including the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the RJD have claimed that post the survey, the state government will be in a better position to make policies for the marginalized sections of society but the actual purpose is to use it as a tool to formulate a poll strategy against BJP.
In the context of Bihar, there are three major political forces -- the RJD, the JD-U and the BJP. The leaders of the RJD, JD-U, Congress, and the Left parties are looking at caste based surveys as a means to defeat the BJP in Bihar.
As per the social structure of Bihar, the upper castes are considered core voters of the BJP and even the opposition parties are not denying it.
If we analyse the voters in Bihar, the OBCs, EBCs, Muslims are in larger numbers compared to upper castes like the Brahmins, Bhumihars and Rajputs. There are roughly 19% upper caste, 16% Dalits, 17% Muslims, 16% Yadav and 38% OBC and EBC voters in the state. The political leaders are claiming that a caste based survey will be beneficial equally to the RJD, JD-U, the Left parties, and the Congress as compared to the BJP.
After the actual number of castes come into the public domain, it would be easy for parties like the RJD, JD-U, the Left parties and the Congress to convince voters belonging to the OBC, EBC, Dalit, Yadav and the minorities who are in large numbers in Bihar compared to the upper castes. In case the BJP gives tickets to candidates from these castes, there would be a trust deficit in the minds of voters. They would then trust the candidates of the RJD, JD-U, Left and the Congress more than the BJP.
Bihar has 243 assembly seats and 52 MLAs belong to the Yadav caste after the 2020 poll. The Yadavs are considered core voters of the RJD and the party has the maximum 35 MLAs, the Congress 1, CPM 1, CPI (ML) 2, BJP 7, JD-U 5 and VIP 1.
As a result, the BJP-RSS have played the reservation card ahead of the Lok Sabha polls 2024.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat gave a statement in Nagpur recently to this effect and supported reservations in the country.
“We keep our own fellow human beings behind the social system. We did not care for them, and this continued for almost 2000 years. Until we provide them equality, some social remedies have to be done. Reservation is one of them. Reservation should be continued till such discrimination ends. The Sangh gives complete support to the reservations provided in the Constitution,” Bhagwat said.
Countering the statement of Mohan Bhagwat, RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari said: “Our leader Lalu Prasad Yadav was advocating for reservations his entire life and is firm on this issue. Mohan Bhagwat was the one who made a public statement in 2015 that reconsideration was required on reservations. He is contradicting his own statement. He is making pro-reservation comments as he is seeing defeat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. No one will believe his words. His statement is politically motivated to counter the caste based survey in Bihar.”