Joining the verbal back and forth on caste between parties in Bihar’s ‘grand alliance’ and the BJP, ahead of the crucial assembly elections in the state, JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav on Saturday stated that the “Prime Minister and chief minister have no caste as they are constitutional authorities”.
Yadav, who was in Patna to discuss seat-sharing and finalise the party’s strategy for the Bihar election, was responding to a recent comment by BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh.
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Singh, during a visit to Bihar earlier this week, had said, “A person from upper caste cannot become the Bihar CM”.
NDA had earlier accused JD(U) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad of deepening the divide between “backward and forward castes” in Bihar in an attempt to win the polls.
“The Prime Minister and chief minister have no caste as they are constitutional authorities. There is no merit in such debates,” said Yadav. His comment assumes importance with both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad targetting the BJP over its claim of Narendra Modi being India’s first Prime Minister from the Other Backward Classes (OBC). The two leaders have pointed out that H D Deve Gowda was, in fact, India’s first OBC prime minister.
The JD (U) president also said he will join the protest fast by Lalu Prasad on July 26 to demand the release of the caste census results. The RJD chief has called for a Bihar bandh on July 27 to press for his demand.
Yadav, who met Kumar on Saturday, claimed that there had been no talks on seat sharing yet, but sources said JD(U) has demanded equal number of seats as the RJD for its candidates.
Yadav also expressed his support for Lalu Prasad’s idea of campaigning through tongas, saying, “tongas represent the rural culture of electioneering in India and it is a good way to connect to the masses”. Though the RJD has reportedly been uneasy over Nitish Kumar not sharing space with Lalu Prasad on campaign posters and only sharing the dais with him on select occasions, its leaders have largely refrained from attacking their ally publicly.