October 28, 2020

Bihar Election 2020: Social distancing in ticket distribution by National Parties

The Indian constitution provides fundamental rights of equality in all respect to its citizens. Equality before law prohibits discrimination. But in terms of leadership & candidature, it does not apply to the so-called national political parties. Generally, manifesto of all parties, deals with equal opportunities to the people, irrespective of their caste or class. The slogan like “ Samajik Nyay”, “Sabka Sath SabkaVikas” or “Nyay ke sath vikas” etc. of political parties present a daydream scenario. But when elections take place, these dreamy slogans find their place on just colourful papers and actual ground reality reflects havoc pictures. Since independence, national parties particularly Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (or erstwhile Jansangh) and Communist Party (all factions) has brush the social balancing in candidature selection under the carpet. A handful castes or groups dominates candidature lists and leadership issue remains a dream for majority of socially depressed population. After 1931, no caste wise census has been done in the country. As per Mandal Commission Report, the caste composition, based on pro-rata basis, in undivided Bihar is as – Upper Castes (Brahmin, Bhumihar, Rajput & Kayasth) – 13%, Backward Castes (Yadav, Kurmi, Koeri, Bania) -19.3%, Minor artisan & landless castes, termed as Extremely Backward Castes (Dhanuk/Chanau/Amat/Keot sub-castes of Kurmi, Mallah, Kahar, Nai, Teli etc.) -32%, SC/ST- 23.5% and Muslims- 12.5%. When Jharkhand was carved out as separate State, major chunk of STs now falls in Jharkhand and only 0.9 % Adiwasis population remained in Bihar. Among Muslim communities, nearly three-fourth of its population comes under backward class ambit. In 2010, two major alliances were JDU-BJP & RJD-LJP; whereas Congress has contested alone on all 243 seats. In changing scenario of 2015, JDU-RJD-Congress alliance was formed as against BJP-LJP-RLSP-HAM. In 2020, the scene has again reshaped, as at last moment JDU-BJP-HAM-VIP alliance came in to existence against RJD-Congress-CPI-CPM-CPI(ML). Battle for Bihar Vidhan Sabha election 2020 are gaining momentum and all parties have announced their players, which reveals a grim scenario in terms of proportionate social representation. Except Janata Dal United (JDU) of CM Nitish Kumar, who is termed as social engineer, all parties have once again proved their prejudice in providing tickets to various depressed communities as per their share. In ticket allotment, JDU has tried its best in providing proper representation to various social groups. Out of its share of 115, JDU has adjusted 48 seats to Backward Castes (Yadav-18, Kurmi-12, Koeri-15, Vaisya-3), 19 seats to Extremely Backward Castes (including 8 to Dhanuk, a sub-caste of Kurmi), 19 seats to upper castes (Bhumihar-10, Brahmin-2, Rajput-7), its share of 18 reserved seats to SC/ST, and 11 seats to Muslims. Although as champion of EBC, JDU should have to provide some more seats to small artisan Caste groups. It may be noted that in reservation policy of state half of the Kurmis are under BC and rest half in EBC. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Laloo Prasad, ex-CM, has also allotted tickets to backward classes as per their overall quota, but shows its preconception towards non-Yadav backwards, particularly Kurmi-Koeri. Out of its share of 144 seats, RJD has provided 50% seats to its “MY” equation, particularly 58 tickets to its core voter Yadav, 21 to Extremely Backward castes and 18 to Muslims. Both national parties Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have once again proved, in their ticket distribution, that socially backward masses are still irrelevant for leadership. BJP list of 110 candidates consists of 50 upper castes (Bhumihar-15, Brahmin-11, Rajput-21, Kayasth-3), 35 backward castes (Yadav-15, Kurmi-3, Koeri-2, Vaisya-15), 8 EBC, and 16 reserved seats to SC/ST. Congress list of 70 candidates are also on the similar pattern of BJP, as the Party has given 33 seats to upper castes (Bhumihar-11, Brahmin-9, Rajput-9, Kayasth-4), 10 seats to backwards (Yadav-5, Kurmi-2, Koeri-1, Vaisya-2), no seats to EBC, 15 reserved seats to SC/ST and 12 seats to Muslims.
The pressure politics of both national parties Congress and BJP in enhancing their quota of seat reflects that detention of Laloo Prasad has not only affected RJD, but JDU too. There is no doubt that the representation of Backward classes, particularly small artisan & landless castes, in Vidhan Sabha will once again lower down, which will be an alarming situation for the socially deprived masses, who have not reached the proportionate figure in Vidhan Sabha as per their population share even after 73 years of independence.
Denial of tickets to Muslims in BJP is not surprising, as it is believed that they donot vote in-mass to the Party; but apathy towards Kurmi-Koeri, who aggressively vote for them due to Nitish Kumar’s face, shows their biasness to Nitish’s Core vote bank. The pattern of previous Parliament as well as Vidhan Sabha elections after 2005 reveals that JDU is always contrived by its alliance partners. In several constituencies, where JDU’s backward class candidates struggle, a bunch of BJP’s upper castes voters prefer to go towards Congress or other parties or even independent candidates of their homogenate social group. Knowing this trend, RJD provides nominal tickets to upper castes except Rajputs. Also, in seat sharing, JDU always lags behind its ally and have to contest on opposition party’s stronghold seats, whereas BJP fights on seats where either its or allies core voters are dominating. In year 2010 Vidhan Sabha election, when JDU-BJP were ally, strike rate of JDU (115 won/141contested, i.e. 81.56%) was below BJP (91/102 i.e. 89.21%), clearly revealing that BJP’s core votes was not transferred to JDU in some areas, particularly to its backward candidates; whereas JDU’s core voters aggressively rallied behind BJP. Same was the scenario in 2015 Vidhan Sabha election, when JDU-RJD alliance was in fray. JDU’s strike rate (71/101, i.e. 70.29%) was less than RJD (80/101, i.e. 79.20%), as a sizeable bunch of RJD’s core voters prefer non-JDU homogenate candidates in place of official JDU candidates in some constituencies. In 2010, the strike rate of RJD was only 22/168, i.e. 13.09% and in 2015 that of BJP was 53/157 i.e. 33.75%, when JDU was in rival camp. In alliance with JDU-RJD, the dying Congress also gets lifeline when its strike rate jumped from 4/243 i.e. 1.64% in 2010 to 27/41, i.e. 65.85% in 2015. Strike rate of Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP remains nearly constant at merely 4% in 2010 & 4.76% in 2015. In 2010 election, the vote percentage of major parties were as :- JDU (contested seat-141)- 22.58%, BJP (102)- 16.49%, RJD (168)- 18.84%, LJP (75)- 6.74%, and Congress (243)- 8.37% ; whereas in 2015 election it was as :- JDU (contested seat-101)- 16.83%, RJD (101)- 18.35%, Congress (41)- 6.68%, BJP (157)- 24.24%, LJP (42)- 4.83%, RLSP (23)- 2.56%. Although, the poll percentage also depends on number of seats contested. The pattern of previous election results reveals that whenever socialist groups unitedly fight against BJP or Congress, backward classes got relatively higher representation in the House and when they break, upper caste lobby of Congress-BJP-Communists dominate. The result of Lok Sabha election in 1990 shows that when socialist’s groups were united as Janata Dal, 53 of the 54 seats were won by Backward-Dalit candidates. In year 2005 & 2010 Vidhan Sabha elections, when JDU & RJD were in opposite alliances, seats of backward classes were lowered, whereas in 2015, when JDU-RJD join hands under political compulsion, seats of socially deprived groups, particularly Yadav, in the House was raised. This is evident from result of last three Vidhan Sabha elections held in the State. The caste composition in Bihar Vidhan Sabha in year 2005 was as : UC-68 (Bhumihar-25, Brahmin-14, Rajput-25, Kayasth-4), BC & EBC -113 (Yadav-55, Kurmi-14, Koeri-17, Vaisya-13, other small artisan castes-14), SC/ST-38, & Muslims-24; in year 2010 was as UC-79 (Bhumihar-26, Brahmin-16, Rajput-34, Kayasth-3), BC & EBC -105 (Yadav-39, Kurmi-18, Koeri-19, Vaisya-12, other small artisan castes-17), SC-38, ST-2 & Muslims-19; and in year 2015 was as UC-50 (Bhumihar-18, Brahmin-10, Rajput-19, Kayasth-3), BC & EBC -128 (Yadav-15, Kurmi-16, Koeri-19, Vaisya-16, other small artisan castes-16), SC-38 (Chamar-13, Dusadh/Paswan-11, Mushar-6, Pasi-6, Dhobi-2, Dom-1), ST-2 & Muslims-24. In 2020 Vidhan Sabha election, the two regional parties JDU and RJD are again in rival camps and their allies national Parties, BJP and Congress respectively, have not only grabbed much more seats compared to previous elections; but has allotted nearly half of their quota to upper caste candidates. The pressure politics of both national parties Congress and BJP in enhancing their quota of seat reflects that detention of Laloo Prasad has not only affected RJD, but JDU too. There is no doubt that the representation of Backward classes, particularly small artisan & landless castes, in Vidhan Sabha will once again lower down, which will be an alarming situation for the socially deprived masses, who have not reached the proportionate figure in Vidhan Sabha as per their population share even after 73 years of independence.
(The author is a civil engineer from M.N. Regional Engineering College, Allahabad. Views are his own)

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