Patna, 25 October
It was not very long ago when the two frontline parties in Bihar had rubbished the relevance of the Congress in Bihar politics. While the RJD which is led by Lalu Prasad had left just four out of the states&’s 40 Lok Sabha (LS) seats for the Congress during the last LS polls forcing the latter to put up candidates on all the seats, the JD-U had been bitterly criticising the grand old party saying jab-jab Congress aati hai, mehangai lati hai.
As of now, however, the Congress remains very high in demand in Bihar with both the RJD and its arch-rival JD-U looking quite eager to stitch up alliance with the party terming it as a “secular” party.
Especially, the JD-U headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is in desperate need to win support of the Congress, post the NDA split to avoid division in the secular votes. The JD-U thinks the Congress still has its traditional voters which may very much prove handy to the party as the vote division will be very sharp in the coming elections given the possible triangular fights between the BJP, RJD-led alliance and JD-U alliance.
The problem with the JD-U is that it does not have its own vote bank. So far, the JD-U had been banking on the support of the upper-caste votes of the BJP but post split, the upper caste voters are set to desert the ruling party.
The killing of the seven members of the upper caste Bhumihar caste by the Maoist rebels last week has further given a severe blow to the JD-U prospect with the powerful landed community turning quite angry towards the JD-U.
The Bhumihar castemen are angry over the fact that no leader or minister from the ruling JD-U thought it fit to rush to the massacre site and console the victim s’ families, although leaders from other parties did.
The other powerful upper caste, Rajput, has already made their intention clear when they hugely voted for the RJD in the recent by-poll to Maharajganj LS seat as the RJD candidate defeated its JD-U rival by over a huge margin of 1.50 lakh votes. The business community, on the other hand, is considered the traditional supporter of the BJP.
Likewise, Dali and Mahadalit communities who earlier voted for the chief minister in the last elections too are in a mood to revolt after a series of acquittals of those involved in killing Dalits by the Patna High Courts.
Given the situation, JD-U&’s only hope is Kurmi, which is the fellow caste of the chief minister but its presence is very thin, and the Muslims. Mr Kumar hopes to get the support of the Muslims after he broke alliance with the BJP but they still remain divided over their support to Mr Kumar as they find Mr Prasad&’s RJD more “secular” than JD-U.
A similar problem exists for the RJD whose national president is now cooling his heels in neighbouring Ranchi jail.