Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP), a little known party from Bihar is contesting on 11 seats from the BJP’s share of 121 seats in the NDA. The little known party came with BJP a few weeks ago and was awarded 11 seats after its head, Mukesh Sahani, held a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Mukesh Sahani previously had a career in Bollywood as a set designer and is known to have designed the set of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s biopic, Devdas. And now he is full time in politics in order to work for the upliftment of the Mallah caste, to which he belongs.
Mallahs are currently categorized under Extremely Backward Caste, a section of OBC which Nitish Kumar separated in order to ensure that the benefits of OBC reservation are not utilized by Yadavs and few other already powerful castes. Since Nitish Kumar had categorized Mallahs under EBC, they have voted for JD(U) but now BJP is trying to woo the community with the help of Mukesh Sahani.
EBCs constitute around 30 per cent of Bihar’s population of which Mallahs form a large chunk. The community had not prospered despite categorization under OBC because other dominant castes monopolized the quota under the OBC section. It is among most backward communities of the country and Nitish Kumar promised to categorize them under scheduled Tribes to ensure maximum reservation benefits for them but could not deliver on that.
Mallahs, primarily used to vote for JD(U), reside on both sides of the Gangs and could sway elections on more than 10 per cent of the seats. But this time, BJP is trying to bring them under the saffron tent which is as per its policy of wooing Non-Yadav OBCs and Non-Jatav SCs in UP and Bihar.
So, in a way, BJP is trying to cut through JD(U)’s vote bank of EBCs. This proves that BJP is in no mood to award CM chair to Nitish Kumar and wants to eliminate his party altogether by bringing the EBC vote bank under the saffron tent.
Nitish Kumar, left with very few options, is now banking on Muslim votes to remain relevant.“My government has done honest service of the Muslim community through concrete measures whereas the opposition parties have done nothing worthwhile but only sought their votes. We believe in the progress of all. We treat Bihar as a family,” Kumar says in his election rallies.
He is highlighting the work done by his government for the Muslims community, like scholarships to students in government-affiliated madrasas, promotion of Urdu language, fencing of graveyards, re-opening of the Bhagalpur riots cases and Rs 2,500 per month as compensation to the riot victims.
Nitish Kumar, through years of deft political manoeuvring, had managed to position himself as ‘Sushasan Babu’ as a counter against the Jungle Raj practised by Lalu Prasad Yadav led RJD. His image as the ‘Sushasan Babu’ of Bihar stands severely battered after his government’s inept handling of recent tragedies- encephalitis and floods.
This time BJP is in no mood to leave the CM chair for the 69-year-old leader who has remained CM for the last 14 years through political manoeuvring. He has no social base except 3 per cent Kurmi votes but had enjoyed power through skilful subcategorization of caste and image manipulation with the help of media. While he is famed to have brought ‘Sushashan’ in the state, development still remains a far cry in Bihar. So far, he has ruled the state for 13 long years and Bihar continues to remain one of the poorest regions of the country.
Nitish Kumar learned the first lessons of politics under the tutelage of the socialist icon, Jayprakash Narayan and ‘socialism’ remains evident in his economic policies. Over the reign of 13 years, he has tried to distribute wealth and deliver public services rather than ‘encouraging’ the creation of wealth. He has used the money given by the ‘central government’ and the money sent by ‘migrant labourers’ to distribute freebies to poor people rather than spending on infrastructure, industrial development and attracting ‘services companies’.
BJP is consolidating Hindu vote bank by bringing the leaders of so-called lower caste Hindu under the NDA fold and has plans to eliminate JD(U) altogether in the next year’s. And despite the repeated claims by BJP leaders, any person interested in politics can see that the party has no plans to bear Nitish as CM for the next 5 years.