Once dubbed the party of upper castes in Bihar, the Congress has after more than 20 years sought to reach out to its traditional votebank for its revival in the state.
In its attempt at social engineering in the state where elections were fought on caste equations, the party has given the highest number of tickets — 79 — to the upper castes in 221 seats for which candidates have been declared so far.
Other backward castes (OBCs) have 56 tickets, including 20 Yadavs, followed by Muslims with 47.
Significantly, only five members of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's caste – Kurmi – will fight on Congress tickets. "They will never vote for the Congress," a senior leader said, justifying the move.
After the Ayodhya verdict, the Congress is making a desperate attempt to win back the support of Muslims who, over the years, have shifted their loyalties to other parties, including the RJD and JD (U).
Among the upper castes, Rajputs have the maximum share of 32 seats followed by Bhumihars with 25 and Brahmins with 18.
Reaching out to the youth, the party has given 42 seats to people below 35 years. Out of these, 12 are from the Youth Congress, which had forwarded the names of 21 candidates.