By Imran Khan
Not just the Dalits, OBCs and Muslims, the upper castes too supported the Nitish-Lalu combine, with a majority of the upper caste candidates of the Grand Alliance winning the Bihar assembly elections.
This is contrary to common perception that the overwhelming upper castes supported and voted the BJP-led NDA in Bihar assembly polls.
The grand alliance of JD-U, RJD and Congress won the polls, giving a third straight term to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
They defeated the NDA candidates with support and vote of the upper castes, not only the OBCs, Muslims and Dalits.
Lalu Prasad’s RJD has fielded five upper caste candidates — three won the polls and two were defeated. Congress fielded 16 upper caste candidates, of whom 12 won the polls.
Similarly JD-U fielded 18 upper caste candidates and majority of them won the polls.
According to Congress leaders here, 12 of the 27 Congress candidates elected to the Bihar assembly are upper castes.
BJP has fielded 69 upper caste candidates, but only 22 of them won the polls. Most of the upper caste candidates of BJP allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), and Hindustani Awam Morch (HAM) were defeated.
Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM contested from 20 seats but won only one seat.
The party’s sole victor was Manjhi himself. He won from Imamganj in Gaya, his home district.
Both LJP chief and union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Manjhi, considered top Dalit leaders in Bihar, have failed to attract Dalit voters in BJP-led NDA fold. It was reflected as LJP has failed to win a single reserved seat (SC).
“It appears that upper caste voters sided with the upper caste candidates of the grand alliance and in some seats upper castes voters supported independent upper caste candidates at the cost of the BJP-led NDA and ensured the victory of the Grand Alliance candidates,” Mahender Yadav, a political activist said.
Even Dalits supported the grand alliance star campaigners Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad instead of Paswan and Manjhi, he said.
The RJD emerged as the single largest party with 80 assembly seats, followed by the JD-U with 71 and the Congress with 27 . (IANS)
The BJP won 53 assembly seats, followed by LJP 2, RLSP 2 and HAM 1.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)