Battling hard to grab political space in Bihar where it ruled for many years, the Congress on Tuesday played the masterstroke, giving the charge of two key positions to the upper caste leaders.

While it appointed veteran Congressman and former minister Madan Mohan Jha as the new president of the state Congress, parliamentarian Akhilesh Prasad Singh was made the chairman of the campaign committee for upcoming Lok Sabha elections due early next year.

Jha comes from Brahmin caste which accounts for some eight percent of the total population whereas Singh hails from politically-dominant Bhumihar caste which roughly accounts for some five percent of the total population in Bihar. Both this caste has been instrumental in deciding the fate of the NDA for long.

The post of the full-time Congress chief in the state was lying vacant for the past over a year ever since previous party chief Ashok Chaudhary quit the party to join chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD-U.

The top leadership was seriously searching for “suitable” candidate for this post and ultimately settled for Jha for variety of reasons. Jha replaces Kaukab Quadri who had been continuing as the acting party chief.

In another significant experiment, the party leadership this time appointed four working presidents for Bihar, who include Ashok Kumar, Kaukab Quadri, Sameer Kumar Singh and Shayam Sunder Singh Dheeraj so as to extensively use their experience and voters’ contact.

The move is being described as a masterstroke by the Congress, which experts say, will help the party significantly get the support of the two prominent upper castes, Brahmins and Bhumihars, who got alienated from party. The selection assumes significance amid the continuing protests by these two upper castes over new SC/ST Act restoring old provisions.

Experts say the idea will work wonders for the three-party Grand Alliance in Bihar if the Congress is able to get even little support of these two upper castes. Lalu Prasad’s RJD and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) are the other two constituents of the Grand Alliance which have their solid support base among the backward castes, Muslims and Dalits.