Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar feels that caste will no more be a factor in the upcoming Assembly elections and that it will be relegated to the background for the first time.
"Things are beginning to change in Bihar and I think the caste factor will be relegated to the back seat for the first time in the coming Assembly polls in the state," Kumar wrote on his blog nitishspeaks.blogspot.com recently.
"The polls this time would witness the majority of the people rising above narrow caste considerations to vote for development-centric politics," he asserted.
Bihar goes to poll in unusually long six phases from October 21 to November 20 for its 243 Assembly seats in which an estimated 5.50 crore electorate would exercise their franchise.
Kumar suggested surveying agencies being hired by political parties should not overlook this fact when they set out to compile data for their pre-poll assessment prior to the elections.
"In fact, this trend was already discernible during the parliamentary elections last year when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 32 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar," he pointed out saying that the results have indicated that development-oriented politics has replaced caste factor.
For the first time majority of the people had exercised their their voting rights not on the basis of the caste of a candidate but on the development work initiated by the state government, he said.
Kumar further wrote on his blog that the change in the profile of women voters would be another important parameter in Bihar this year.
"In previous polls, women did not have any separate identity as voters and it was generally believed that women would vote for the same candidate that their male relatives would ask them to. They had remained parts of the caste system over the years," he noted.
But now, there is a growing sense of awareness among women because of several initiatives taken for their uplift and empowerment in Bihar, he said while highlighting the steps taken by his government for women education and 50 per cent reservation in the Panchayati Raj institutions.
The young voters would also be crucial, Kumar said, adding the Gen-X would also not be swayed on the caste lines.