The RJD’s move to oppose the 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections in general category has led to discomfort within the Grand Alliance months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. While RJD’s move may help it consolidate its support base of OBC, EBC and Dalits, other Grand Alliance parties — especially Congress and RLSP — are apprehensive that this may result in the backward versus forward binary getting more pronounced and hit their poll prospects.
Bihar Congress’s working president Kaukab Quadri said, “It would have surely been a better position if RJD supported the 10 per cent quota. Conversion of votes is an important aspect of an alliance. We are a little embarrassed with the RJD stand, but they are a different political party with their agenda. The only binding factor between us is secularism.”
Twelve of Congress’s 27 current MLAs are from upper castes and the party is likely to field a good number of upper caste candidates in the Lok Sabha polls.
RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha said, “We have always done cohesive and inclusive politics. A support to 10 per cent quota by all Grand Alliance constituents could have been a better situation.”
Asked if the RJD’s stand would hurt conversion of votes for allies, Kushwaha said, “It should not reflect in a major way. Even the JD (U) and BJP have their differences.”
Hindustani Awam Morcha (secular) spokesperson Danish Rizwan said, “We do not agree with what the RJD says. We are in favour of reservation proportionate to population of a social group.”
RJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Kumar Jha, however, said it is BJP that should be blamed for creating any backward-forward binary. “I agree there are poor among upper castes, but their poverty does not arise out of their birth in that caste,” he said. Asked about allies’ discomfort, Jha said: “We are not concerned with that. We have taken a stand.”