While the BJP is trying hard to retain the LJP in the NDA for its potential to consolidate Scheduled Caste votes, with the support of former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), other political parties are also taking several steps with an eye on Dalit votes.
After the JD(U) appointed SC leader Ashok Choudhary as the party’s working state president as state president Bashistha Narayan Singh was unwell, the RJD was prompt to welcome RLSP state president Bhudeo Choudhary to its fold and make him the party’s state vice president. When former ministers Shyam Rajak and Ramai Ram and former Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary left the JD(U) for RJD, the former tried to compensate by getting Manjhi in the NDA fold.
Two alliances have also been stitched together with an eye on Dalit votes. RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, who recently severed ties with the Grand Alliance, Tuesday forged an alliance with BSP that has influence in Gopalganj, Rohtas and Kaimur bordering Uttar Pradesh — BSP had won six seats in the 2005 February Assembly polls.
The BJP, meanwhile, is also trying aggressively to play its Dalit card. The party made former Gopalganj MP Janak Chamar its state general secretary, a position given to a Dalit leader after 20 years. The party last week included Guru Prakash among its 23 national spokespersons.
Prakash, an assistant professor at Patna University with a strong ABVP and RSS background, is the son of former Union minister and MLC Sanjay Paswan.
SCs form 16 per cent of Bihar’s population with Ravidas and Paswan being the major constituents. Even though Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has tried hard to cultivate the SC constituency by announcing the nomenclature of Mahadalits and starting over one-and-a-half dozen welfare programmes, no single political party can claim the maximum chunk of Dalit votes. While Ravidas votes have remained divided between Congress, NDA, RJD and BSP, most of the Paswans kept shifting preferences as per the alliance choice of their national leader Ram Vilas Paswan.
EC removes excise commissioner
Patna: The office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Bihar on Wednesday removed the excise commissioner. In a statement, Chief Electoral Officer H R Srinivasa said, “Election Commission has removed B Kartikey Dhanji, IAS, from post of excise commissioner with immediate effect for non-presentation of effective action plan for preventive measures and grossly inadequate preparedness…”
There are apprehensions of import of liquor in the run-up to polls from the neighbouring states of UP, Jharkhand and West Bengal and also Nepal. The EC had asked for an effective action plan from the excise commissioner. Bihar has been under prohibition since April 2016. —ENS
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