PATNA: With the announcement of the final list of 242 candidates for the Bihar Assembly polls, the ‘grand alliance’ led by Nitish Kumar clearly indicated that it would play the “Mandal card” in the run up to the polls. The lion’s share of seats have gone in favour of backward castes.
“About 55 per cent of the 242 candidates belong to Other Backward Castes (OBC), 16 per cent to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, while 14 per cent are Muslim, and the rest are from general or upper castes. About 10 percent of the candidates, 25 of them, are women,” said Nitish Kumar, releasing the list here at a press conference, along with with RJD state president Ram Chandra Purve and state Congress president Ashok Choudhary.
“All sections of society have been given adequate representation” he added.
The JD(U) and RJD are contesting 101 seats each while the Congress will be in the fray for the remaining 41 seats. A candidate for the remaining one seat, Rajgir, will be announced later. The distribution of party tickets revealed that Lalu-led RJD is still heavily depending on its core voters of Yadavs and Muslims, better known as the MY combination in political parlance of Bihar, whereas JD(U) is banking on Kurmi and Koeri caste voters of the OBC section. It may be recalled that at the Swabhiman rally last month, Lalu had said “this is not Jungle Raj-II but Mandal Raj –II”.
Nitish used the occasion to target the BJP by questioning its stand after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s controversial remark on the issue of reservation. He said whatever the ruling party may say it cannot afford to go against the views of the RSS.
“RSS view is final. Whatever BJP might say, it has no meaning. Like anything is decided by the Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, it is final and there is nothing after that. The same way in RSS, if RSS chief says something then BJP has no say.” Kumar said.
Kumar termed the BJP a political outfit of the RSS with many Swayamsevaks and pracharaks being part of the present government.
Nitish said, “Any amendment in the Constitution can be done in Parliament. They want somebody other than the Constitution, an extra-constitutional authorityto look into who should get reservation and how long. It is a very dangerous view. It cannot be accepted.”
The candidate list includes the two sons of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, Tejaswi and Tej Pratap – who are entering electoral politics for the first time — from the Yadav-dominated Raghopur and Mahua constituencies of Vishali district. Interestingly, the BJP has fielded Satish Kumar who defeatied former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, winning the seat last time. In Mahua, Lalu’s elder son Tej Pratap will take on Ravidra Rai who rebelled against Nitish and joined hands with Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM.