The caste calculus often pulled out to analyse the Bihar elections has to be thrown out, at least for now, after the Bharatiya Janata Party led NDA’s clean sweep through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand where alliances were tied carefully according to caste-based vote banks they held.
There was such a Modi wave in Bihar this time that the chiefs of the all caste based political parties – Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and VIP – the three allies of the RJD-led Grand Alliance in Bihar – have been defeated in Lok Sabha polls.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, carefully chose its partners. To add to its traditional Muslim and Ahir vote bank Tejashwi Yadav, who is leading the party in the absence of his father Lalu Prasad brought together Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha, Mahadalit caste leader Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and Mukesh Sahani’s Vikas Sheel Insaan Party. And then via Congress, they sought to keep the minority vote intact in their fold.
Together they made a formidable alliance, except it did not work. Barring Kishanganj where Dr. Mohammed Jawed of the Congress won, the coalition scored nil.
Upendra Kushwaha, a self-proclaimed leader of Koeris (a cultivator caste group specialising in kitchen gardening), who contested from two seats Ujiyarpur and Karakat – was defeated in both. In the Ujiyarpur seat, he was defeated by BJP state president Nityanand Rai and in Karakat he was beaten by the Janata Dal United (JD-U) candidate Mahabali Singh.
Upendra had won Karakat seat in 2014 when he was with the BJP-led NDA.
Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has been defeated from Gaya by the JD-U candidate Vijay Manjhi. Gaya is the home district of Manjhi.
Mukesh Shahni, who is positioning himself as the leaders of Mallahs (fishermen and boatmen), was defeated from the Khagaria constituency by the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) sitting MP Mahboob Ali Qaiser.
As per the seat sharing formula of the Grand Alliance, RLSP contested from 5 seats and HAM and VIP contested from 3 seats each. But all three parties like the RJD failed to win a single seat.
Besides RJD’s Muslim-Ahir vote bank, the Grand Alliance was banking on RLSP getting the votes of the Koeri community, Mahadalit votes for HAM and the Mallah community votes for VIP. These calculations, however, do not appear to have worked.
The result was a huge setback for RJD – a party controlled by Lalu Prasad’s family, that failed to open its account in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In absence of Lalu his son Tejashwi failed to woo voters.
Speaking at the BJP headquarters, party president Amit Shah hit out at opposition parties saying the mandate is a strong message against dynastic and casteist politics, which is going to lose its existence.
“The 21 dynastic parties were roaming around Delhi questioning exit polls to create confusion among people,” he added.