The BJP-led NDA will be putting up more Muslim and Yadav candidates this time in Bihar as it seeks to neutralise the formidable social coalition of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, and it believes that Jitan Ram Manjhi's inclusion gives it an edge in the state with deep caste fault lines.
Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, a strong contender for the chief minister's post if NDA wins, on Monday said people believe that development has become a casualty after Nitish Kumar dumped BJP to join hands with RJD and Congress.
"People are comparing his (Kumar's) current dispensation with what he delivered when BJP was his partner," he said.
Modi also sought to puncture the grand JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance's claim of having solid support of the Yadavs -- the most numerous caste which had traditionally backed Lalu Prasad -- saying Prasad's hold over them had "weakened" as reflected in the loss of his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti in the Lok Sabha polls.
The former deputy chief minister claimed that Muslims were not "allergic" to the NDA, and said his party would put up more Muslim candidates this time. "We (BJP) and our allies will certainly field more Muslims," he told reporters here, claiming that Muslims have good equation with Bihar BJP.
Bihar BJP chief Mangal Pandey told PTI that more Yadavs will contest on his party's tickets this time.
BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been wooing Yadavs, who constitute 12-15% of the total electorate. Though it succeeded in weaning away a section of Yadavs, especially the youth, in the Lok Sabha polls, it remains to be seen if they will vote for the party in the assembly polls.
Sushil Modi said people believed that Kumar would keep fighting with the Centre for one reason or another and that they wanted BJP in power for the state's development.
Mahadalit leader Manjhi joining the alliance will give an edge to NDA, he said, adding that the community had mostly voted for Kumar in the Lok Sabha polls.