The BJP has fielded about two dozen candidates from the politically-crucial Yadav community considered supporters of rival Lalu Prasad’s RJD and dropped nearly a fourth of its legislators for the Bihar assembly polls kicking off next month.
This is a big upsurge compared to the 2010 election when just six of the party’s 102 nominees were from this backward community that constitutes less than 15% of the state’s population but wields considerable political clout.
The move assumes significance as the grand alliance of chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), the RJD and Congress is attempting to stitch together a Muslim-Yadav combination, over 30% of Bihar’s electorate, to bring to a halt the BJP’s election juggernaut that has won state after state since the 2014 parliamentary polls win.
“There are some districts with one or two assembly constituencies. On an average, we have given a Yadav candidate to every district,” BJP’s Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav told HT. “Extremely backward communities and Dalits have been given adequate representation. So have been the different upper castes. It is a perfect combination of candidates. We have fielded many professionals as well.”
Among those to get a BJP call-up is former petroleum secretary RS Pandey, who joined the party in 2013. He will contest from Bagaha in West Champaran district that goes to the polls in the fourth phase on November 1.
In its first list of 43 nominees the BJP picked five Yadav candidates while 13 more were chosen for the second list of 99 released on Saturday. The third list announced on Sunday had at least three Yadav candidates. Two Muslims have also got BJP tickets.
Together, the BJP and three of its NDA partners have chosen close to three dozen candidates from the Yadav community.
The party also denied tickets to 19 out of its existing 84 legislators, nearly a fourth of its total strength in the assembly. The BJP won 91 seats five years ago, but some of its MLAs defected to the ruling JD (U) while a few passed away.
“We had initially decided not to axe so many of them (sitting legislators) in order to avoid a controversy,” a BJP leader said. “But, on second thoughts, it was decided that most of them were facing a huge personal anti-incumbency that could have adversely impacted the party despite the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. So, a decision was taken to deny tickets to such legislators.”
Many veterans, including former ministers like Chandramohan Rai and Sukhda Pandey, will have to sit out the polls this time. The party has given tickets to the sons and daughters of many active BJP politicians and those who crossed over to the BJP at the last moment have also been obliged with nominations.
Battle for Bihar