Saturday, March 6, 2021

Dalit votes crucial in oncoming Bihar polls as all parties vie to attract them

Patna: Dalit politics is going to be the most decisive factor in the Bihar Assembly elections slated to be held most likely in November month next.

From NDA to the opposition’s grand alliance, all sides are trying to somehow attract 16 per cent dalit voters in the state.

And last moment switching of sides is also happening in a big way. All parties are keen to play their decisive dalit card.

Ram Vilas Paswan, who feels that he is the biggest and most natural claimant to Dalit vote bank in the state, is now facing some problem from another NDA constituent JD(U) itself.

LJP feels that Nitish Kumar has inducted the former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjihi in NDA only to rein in LJP whenever required.

No body should be surprised if LJP decides to stay within NDA, but does not go for an electoral tie-up with JD(U) during Assembly elections.

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On the other hand, Nitish Kumar is trying a new card everyday to attract dalit voters.

A day back, Nitish announced that if any member of a SC-ST family is killed in the state, then a member of the victim family would be given a government job and a law would soon be enacted for this.

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Several other pro-dalit steps are being taken by Nitish Kumar. He is also inducting new leaders with his party.

He recently inducted the former DG, Sports and 1987 batch IPS officer Sunil Kumar into his party. Sunil Kumar belongs to a reputed dalit family.

It is almost certain that Sunil Kumar will be fielded by Nitish Kumar in the next Assembly elections.

On the other hand, Laloo Yadav’s RJD too is trying to strengthen its dalit base through former minister in Nitish government Shyam Rajak.

RJD is also trying to consolidate backward voters apart from dalit votes.

On the hand, BJP too is not far behind in trying dalit card. Nor is Congress lagging. Even BSP leader and former CM of UP Mayawati too has joined the fray. She is trying to undermine Nitish Kumar’s support base.

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Dalits comprise 16 per cent of Bihar’s population. In 2006, Nitish Kumar had declared 21 dalit castes as Maha Dalits.

In 2018, even Paswan caste was included in the Maha Dalit group.

Currently, Paswan (around 5.5 per cent) and Ravidas (around 4 per cent) comprise the main blocks of Maha Dalit group.

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Apart from these castes, the population share of Musahar caste is also 5.5 per cent. There are other castes too and all of these groups and communities will play an important role in deciding the future of political parties.

However, things are still in flux for now in Bihar.

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