Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Caste still matter in Bihar polls

Source: Mail Today
Development is alright, but caste arithmetic remains the key factor in determining the success of a candidate in Bihar.
Most of the seven constituencies going to polls the second phase of Lok Sabha election in the state on Thursday are the impregnable castles of different castes where it might be difficult for the candidates, not belonging to the dominant communities, to script their success stories. It is no surprise that most of the parties have chosen their candidates in keeping with the overall caste profile of the constituencies.

The Patliputra seat, which was created on the basis of the delimitation commission report in 2009, has emerged as a stronghold of Yadav candidates due to large population of their fellow caste men there. This time, the triangular contest has three Yadavs - Misa Bharti (RJD), Ram Kripal Yadav (BJP) and Ranjan Prasad Yadav (JD( U))-in the fray. Patliputra had also witnessed an all-Yadav fight five years ago when Ranjan had defeated Lalu Prasad (RJD) and Vijay Singh Yadav Congress). The adjoining Patna Sahib, however, is considered a safe seat for the candidates from the Kayastha caste. The BJP has retained its sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha while the JD(U) has fielded another Kayastha, Dr Gopal Prasad Sinha. In 2009, Shatrughan had defeated Congress candidate Shekhar Suman, another Kayastha, among other candidates.

Nalanda constituency, the home turf of chief minister Nitish Kumar, has been a bastion of the Kurmis. This time, the JD( U) has retained its sitting MP Kaushalendra Kumar, a Kurmi, while the Congress- RJD has fielded former DGP of Bihar Police Ashish Ranjan Sinha, another Kurmi.

Also going to polls on April 17 are the two seats where candidates from Bhumihar castes have held sway over the years. In Munger, JD(U)'s sitting MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, a Bhumihar, is locked in a tough fight against LJP's Veena Devi, wife of former MP Surajbhan Singh, a Bahubali (strongman).

Similarly, the two Bhumihars locking horns in Jehanabad are Arun Kumar from the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, an ally of the BJP, and the JD(U)' s Anil Kumar Sharma, a realty baron who owns the Amrapali group of companies.
In contrast, the fight is between the two Rajput candidates in Ara.

The BJP has fielded former Union home secretary Raj Kumar Singh who is trying to wrest the seat from JD(U)'s Meena Singh. In Buxar, the Rajput and Brahmin voters are equally dominant. The BJP has fielded Ashwini Kumar Choubey in its bid to wrest the seat from RJD's Jagdanand Singh, a Rajput, who won the seat defeating BJP's Lalmuni Choubey by a narrow margin.

Some parties have, however, preferred to give ticket to the leaders from other castes. For instance, Lalu Prasad has chosen to field Bhagan Singh Kushwaha, an OBC, from the Rajput- dominated Ara seat while he has given ticket to Surendra Prasad Yadav from the Bhumihar- dominated Jehanabad constituency. Similarly, the Congress fielded Bhojpuri actor Kunal Singh, a Yadav by caste, from Patna Sahib. These parties want to reap the benefits from the split in the votes due to presence of two or more candidates from same community.

Source: Mail Today

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