Caste brigades drive hard bargain for their share in Assembly, keep parties guessing

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By JOY SENGUPTA
  • Published 16.09.10
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Patna, Sept. 15: Chief minister Nitish Kumar believes caste factor will take back seat in the ensuing Assembly polls. He expressed his view in a blog. But the Swarnkars and the Telis may send his thought for a toss.

As Bihar braces for the Assembly elections, the “show of might” has started. Caste calculations and the demand for representation are also back.

Claims are tall. Some talk about 50 lakh members, who would act at one go, while others threaten to cut down votes of a particular alliance because they have not been included in a particular caste group.

Others are busy giving advice to their own party not to ignore the backward and the Extremely Backward Classes (EBC).

The state capital on Sunday witnessed three such meetings. And their demands were straight and hard-hitting.

The Bihar State Swarnkar (goldsmith) Sangh, who come under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, launched a direct attack on political parties for “using” them just as a vote bank.

The Sangh firmly believes that the coming elections would be different, as they would lend their support to the political party that offers them a representation in the government.

With the Swarnkars on a fighting mode, the Telis, who also come under the OBC category, are planning to cut the JD(U) votes in all the districts as Nitish Kumar failed to keep his promise of including them in the EBC category.

The state Congress EBC wing also was all guns blazing as they said that the party, while distributing the tickets, should keep the EBC in mind and give them a decent chance if they wished to fare well in the elections.

Jeewan Kumar, the general secretary of the state Swarnkar Sangh, told The Telegraph all the political parties of the state had been fooling them and using them as a vote bank.

“This time things would be different. We will not allow ourselves to be used. Till now we don’t have any representative in the government. We don’t have any MLA, a minister or even an MLC. This time, we will not allow the same to happen. Our vote bank is not for any particular political party at the moment. We want our representative in the government and we will have it this time,” Kumar said.

Kumar, flaunting the strength, claimed that there were 50 lakh Swarnkars in Bihar and it was a major vote bank. “A lot of political parties have contacted us. But till now, we have been thinking and have not entertained anyone,” he said.

If Kumar was fuming, so was Priyaranjan Modi, the national president of the Teli Sena. As a show of their strength, the Sena felicitated people of their caste, who held good positions in different fields recently.

Modi told The Telegraph that they were eyeing as many as 25 to 30 MLAs in the forthcoming elections. He, however, said the main motive was to cut the vote bank of the JD(U), as the ruling alliance did not kept its promise.

“At the moment we have six MLAs in the government. This time we are hoping for at least 30 and we are promoting the young brigade and women for the same,” he added.

“We have been demanding for an EBC status for a long time. But it has not been fulfilled. We are not going to lend our support to the JD(U). There is a core committee meeting lined up and we will have our representatives camping in all the constituencies before the elections. The aim is to cut the JD(U) vote bank,” he said.

Modi added that the response from the other political parties has been very positive. Members of the state Congress EBC wing, too, asked its high command for caution when it came to distribution of tickets.

“The EBC should not be ignored. Else, the party would suffer a major setback. They need to think about the EBC when it comes to representation,” a member of the state Congress EBC wing said.