The Bihar Post

Trouble in NDA? BJP caste pendulum swings back towards upper castes in three years


PATNA: Has Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to know about the harsh reality of caste-based Indian politics? The answer seems to be in the affirmative if one analyses the caste backgrounds of the NDA leaders from Bihar accommodated in the Modi Cabinet.

The BJP is widely known as a party having its traditional support base primarily among the upper castes which form some 14 percent of state’s total population.

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But, during the last 2014 LS polls, the BJP went to the masses trying hard to woo the backward/ extremely backward and Dalit castes which form a major chunk of state’s total votes and are instrumental in deciding the fate of a government.

In a bid to woo them, the BJP went on widely revealing the caste status of PM face Modi, extensively discussing among voters how he comes from the OBC category and also how he once sold tea at the railway station apparently to get sympathy of the vast backward and EBC voters.

If that was not enough, the party also engaged a number of leaders from backward and Dalit communities, such Bhupendra Yadav, Ram Kripal Yadav, Nand Kishore Yadav, Dharmendra Pradhan, Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha, Sushil Kumar Modi and Prem Kumar in the intensive poll campaign.

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The move angered the upper caste voters which revolted but were pacifies with promises. Especially the leaders from Bhumihar and Bharhmins objected to the way they were ”ignored” to make way for others but somehow mutiny was tackled.

Some three years in office, the BJP has now come to realize its “mistake” and it is back to give due prominence to the upper caste, its most trusted vote bank, once again.

The induction/retention of NDA leaders from Bihar in the Modi cabinet during its third reshuffle on Sunday gives ample hints about the change in party’s strategy.

Prior to cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, the representation of upper caste and backward/dalit leaders from Bihar was equal in the Modi cabinet.

But post Sunday reshuffle, the BJP’s caste pendulum has finally tilted towards the Upper castes with induction of one more leader from this particular community in the Modi cabinet—that is Ashwini Kumar Choube, a Brahmin by caste. This comes to five upper caste ministers from Bihar against four from OBC/Dalit community.

Right now, there are nine ministers from Bihar in the Modi cabinet. They include Ram Vilas Paswan (Dalit-LJP), Upendra Kushwaha (OBC-RLSP), Ravishankar Prasad (Kayashtha), Radha Mohan Singh (Rajput), Dharmendra Pradhan (OBC), Giriraj Singh (Bhumihar), Raj Kumar Singh (Rajput), Ram Kripal Yadav (OBC) and Ashwini Kumar Choube (Brahmin), all from the BJP.

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