With social engineering being the buzzword in Bihar polls, Congress has done a delicate balancing act in giving representation to various castes and communities in its ticket distribution exercise.
The party has attempted to break new grounds while retaining its support base consisting of upper castes, Muslims and Dalits. Reaching out to youths, the party has given 42 seats to people below 35 years, while women have been declared as candidates in 35 seats so far.
Hoping for a return of minorities towards Congress on the line of Uttar Pradesh, the party has given tickets to 47 Muslims in 221 seats for which candidates have been declared so far.
Some more members from the community are likely to get tickets from the remaining 21 seats for which the tickets are yet to be distributed.
Upper Castes, who are not known for voting for Lalu Prasad's RJD and off late have shown some hostility towards JD-U have also got major share of Congress tickets. They have already got tickets for 79 seats, maximum 32 of which have gone to Rajputs followed by 25 to Bhumihars and 18 to Brahmins.
The party has announced OBCs as candidates in 56 seats so far of which Yadavs have got 20. A senior Congress leader said the strategy is to dent the M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) combination of Lalu Prasad.
The Scheduled Castes have got 37 seats of which Paswan community has got 12. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, whose party is fighting this election in alliance with Lalu Prasad's RJD hails from this caste.
The party hopes that the new experiment it is doing while giving party tickets will help it reap an impressive electoral bonanza in the state.
A senior party leader, closely associated with the exercise for ticket distribution, said that castes which had been hitherto unrepresented are getting party tickets in an attempt to broadbase its support.
Even while distributing tickets to the Muslims, the party has made sure that all sections amongst them are fairly represented. So tickets have gone to members of backward communities among Muslims as well as the forward sections of Muslims in the exercise.
The party has also nominated candidates from Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) like the Nishads (fisherman community), Kushwahas. So far a dozen seats have gone to the EBCs which remained out of scheme of the party for quite long.
The leader explained that these castes may not be numerically high or concentrated in some constituencies but they are spread all over the state and giving party nomination helps rope in these sections which have been neglected so far.
Party leaders said that earlier, women used to get between 5 to 10 per cent of the seats and now it is much more.
The party hopes to get the support of women voters in the state after passing the Women's Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha and feels fielding large number of women will counter Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's feat of getting women elected in Panchayat elections. Sources said that the list of remaining candidates would be declared in a day or two.