| JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav pays floral tributes to Karpoori Thakur in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Jan. 24: Karpoori Thakur on his 89th birth anniversary today was the flavour of almost all mainline parties — BJP, JD(U), RJD and LJP.
The reason construed was that all were vying to woo the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs), who constitute about 35 per cent of the state’s electorate, and Karpoori, the tallest among the Bihar leaders by all accounts, belonged to the community. What, apparently, goaded them to celebrate the event with gusto is the general election due next year drawing close.
The centre of envy in the present context is chief minister Nitish Kumar who consolidated his position among the EBCs soon after coming to power in 2005. He segregated the EBCs from the Mandal block of backward castes and reserved 20 per cent panchayat seats for them. This section supported Nitish in successive elections, boosting his strength.
RJD too had all the reasons to celebrate Thakur’s birth anniversary. Lalu, who succeeded Karpoori, after the latter’s death in 1989 as the Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, has been celebrating the anniversary with gusto.
But Thakur has emerged the proverbial “newfound icon” for BJP. Though BJP is part of the NDA and ruling the state in alliance with the Dal, it sensed it can morph itself from a cadre-based party to a mass-based party in Bihar only when it can woo the EBCs. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan too celebrated Thakur’s birth anniversary at the party office.
The Congress stayed out of the celebrations because Karpoori practised and epitomized “anti-Congress-ism”, the most favoured word of the socialists in that era.