NDA pushes Brahmins on margins of Bihar politics

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BJP gives 59 pc Lok Sabha tickets to upper castes in Bihar

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, March 26: Bihar politics in the heydays of the Congress was dominated by Brahmin leaders. They had taken the baton of the party leadership from Kayastha leaders. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in BIhar was also identified with party leader Tara Kant Jha. But changes in political seasons now have confirmed a sharp decline in the presence of the Brahmin leaders within the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar.

The candidates from upper castes in the BJP have grabbed 59 per cent of the Lok Sabha tickets. The BJP’s excessive upper caste centric ticket distribution is in contrast to the party’s compulsive OBC politics in other states. For the BJP, the electoral script remains unchanged. The same method was seen for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had commissioned a caste survey in the state. He was able to wrap up the survey despite several challenges. Besides legal hurdles, Kumar had faced the challenge of shoddy survey work as revealed by several state-based dailies in their reports. But the outcome of the survey had hit the top headlines. Sixty nine per cent of the Bihar population consisted of the people from the backward castes.

The upper caste block was led by Brahmins. They were found to be 3.66 per cent of the population. Rajput followed with 3.45 per cent share. Bhumihar comprised 2.86 per cent of the Bihar population. Kayastha was found to be 0.60 per cent in Bihar.

The BJP is contesting 17 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. The saffron outfit has fielded five Rajput candidates — RK Singh (Arra), Radha Mohan Singh (East Champaran), Janardan Singh Shigriwal (Maharajganj), Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran), and Sushil Kumar Singh (Aurangabad). The caste got a bonus ticket from the JD (U). Lovely Anand, wife of the don of the yesteryears Anand Mohan Singh who was convicted for lynching a serving IAS officer, is in the electoral ring from Sheohar parliamentary constituency.

The BJP stuck to two tickets for Brahmins as had been the case in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Union Minister Ashwani Kumar Choube was axed. The BJP has not given reasons for denying him ticket. Choube may lament that a more older Radha Mohan Singh got the ticket. Mithilesh Tiwari has replaced Choube in the Buxar parliamentary seat. Gopal Thakur will give him company in the caste from Darbhanga seat.

Political observers in Patna explain that Brahmins in Bihar went to the margins after the rise of the Bhumihar leadership in the party ranks. Kailashpati Mishra took the BJP leadership batons in Bihar. Under his watch, a group of Bhumihar leaders came to the forefront. The BJP has extended the largess for the caste buy giving two seats to Bhumihar candidates — Giriraj Singh (Begusarai) and Vivek Thakur (Nawada).

Ravi Shankar Prasad is the lone Kayastha candidate from the BJP. Prasad will check his fate from the Patna City Lok Sabha seat. The BJP, thus, has given a total of 10 seats to the upper caste candidates.

In addition, the BJP has signaled that Brahmins will continue to be on the margins of state politics. This is because of the lack of a face from the caste in the party who could be known across Bihar. Choube had claimed to inherit the legacy of the Brahmin leadership. But the party insiders argue that he squandered the opportunity by making more enemies than friends in the BJP.

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