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CM plays poll card

Patna, April 22: Nitish Kumar today invoked the “power” of the Mahadalits (lowly among Scheduled Castes) and part of his newly carved-out support base as what was construed to be his well-oiled endeavour to go solo in elections if the JD(U)-BJP alliance falls apart.

“You have a solid vote bank. Ensure that you maintain rock-like unity during the polls. We have tried to arm you with several beneficial schemes to bring out in the mainstream for which some vested interests are out to punish us. Stay alert,” the chief minister told members of the Mahadalits at their conclave organised by the JD(U) in Rajgir.

It sounded like Nitish delivering an election campaign speech at the meeting largely attended by the members of Mahadalit communities at the state-level training camp for the weakest sections of the society. “The party has constituted Mahadalit cells at all pachayats and blocks. The grassroots-level cells’ office-bearers must constantly interact with their community members to ensure that their votes are not spoiled.”

The Mahadalits constitute about 15 per cent of the state’s voters. Nitish dwelt at length on how his government had selectively chosen the educationally and socially backward sections from the Dalit communities to give them preferential treatment. “We are giving land to each and every Mahadalit family to build houses. We have taken such steps after finding that lakhs of Mahadalits were bereft of homes in the state.”

While Nitish was charting out the measures his government had taken to bring the Mahadalits in the social mainstream, the BJP leaders organised a show of their strength with the upper caste Rajputs on the occasion of commemorating the exploits of Veer Kuer Singh against the British forces during the first war of Independence in 1857.

The JD(U), too, has organised a separate function to celebrate Veer Kuer Singh’s victory at the same SK Memorial venue tomorrow where Nitish is expected to speak. The JD(U) is organising the function separately is being interpreted as a battle of “one-upmanship” between the JD(U) and the BJP.

All the SC ministers, including Shyam Rajak, Jitan Ram Majhi, Ramai Ram besides the legislators drawn from the SC communities, accompanied Nitish.