NEW DELHI (TIP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may refrain from invoking caste in the Bihar polls and choose to talk development, but getting the caste equation right seems to have been the principal factor in ticket distribution by the rival alliances.
If the forward castes have walked away with about 86 seats of the 214 for which BJP-led NDA has named its candidates so far, the Grand Alliance has given 63 seats to Yadavs alone as it tries to ensure that the state’s most numerically strong caste continues to back it.
The upper castes do not constitute more than 14 per cent of the electorate but the NDA has allocated them 40 per cent of the seats so far, an indication of its reliance on them in a state where they form the core support base of BJP.
With BJP making concerted efforts to lure Yadavs and giving them 22 seats, RJD’s Lalu Prasad has gone out of the way to keep them on his side and allotted 48 seats from his party’s quota of 101 to the backward community.
Forming about 12-14 per cent of the population, Yadavs’ solid support is key to the Nitish-Lalu combine’s efforts to retain power.
Interestingly, Muslims, who are about 17 per cent, seem to have got a raw deal not only from NDA but also the Grand Alliance whose leaders have traditionally enjoyed strong support among them.
RJD and JD-U together have given them only 23 seats out of the 202 they are fighting.
Sources in both parties claimed it was done as they apprehended communal polarisation if the minority community got “high visibility”. NDA has given Muslims only 9 seats so far.
Congress has named 10 Muslim nominees out of the 41 seats it is contesting in alliance with the two Bihar satraps. The competition between the two alliances to win over Mahadalits, who have so far backed Mr Nitish Kumar and are now being wooed by NDA’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, and extremely backward castes show in ticket allocation with both of them giving away large number of seats to these groups.