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Rally to win fishermen hearts

Patna, Jan. 9: The BJP today decided to organise a rally of fishermen in Muzaffarpur on March 14.

Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said: “The NDA government initiated several schemes for the uplift of fishermen. But the JD(U) government has scrapped several of them after breaking out from the BJP. Against this backdrop, the party has decided to organise the rally to press for the rights of the fishermen.”

The Muzaffarpur Lok Sabha constituency in north Bihar is home to over 3.5 lakh nishads (fishermen). Jainarayan Nishad, who won the seat on the JD(U) ticket in 2009, has switched over to the BJP.

Nishad, the present Muzaffarpur MP, is a proverbial turncoat. He has been in all the parties — the RJD, JD(U) and the BJP in the past 20 years. His only strength is his clout on his numerically preponderant castemen, a deciding factor on the litchi, culture and literature rich Muzaffarpur Lok Sabha seat. The BJP will try to use the erstwhile Nitish Kumar’s “horse” to defeat him in the seat — a bastion of the socialists in the past.

The BJP’s plan to show its strength with the fishermen — a part of the Extremely Backward Class (EBC) that the chief minister has nursed over the years — is believed to be a part of the outfit’s systematic efforts to bring them into the party fold. Unlike its prime opponents — the RJD, JD(U) and the Congress still busy in forging alliances — the BJP is relatively free and apparently concentrating on the grassroots to widen its support base.

Given the constituency’s voting pattern, it might not be easy for the BJP to strengthen its clout on the seat. The socialist ideologue and freedom fighter, Ashok Mehta, had represented it in 1957. During the movement against Emergency, George Fernandes won the seat in 1977 and repeating his feat several times. The socialist leaders committed to the cause of the backward classes converted Muzaffarpur as their favourite hunting ground. JP Narayan had camped in Musahri (in Muzaffarpur) to “guide” the deprived sections against the “lure” of joining the Naxalite upsurge.