JD(U)’s balancing act: ‘Caste does exist but our plank is development’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/jdus-balancing-act-caste-does-exist-but-our-plank-is-development/

JD(U)’s balancing act: ‘Caste does exist but our plank is development’

Basishth Narain Singh told reporters caste was indeed a reality and there were backward castes and as well as forward castes “but I do not accept that caste is everything.”

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A poster of Tejaswi in Raghopur. RJD wants him to speak about youth while Lalu will stick to social justice. (Source: Express photo by Prashant Ravi)

While RJD leader Lalu Prasad continued to project the Bihar poll as a battle between OBCs and higher castes, Bihar Janata Dal (U) president Basishth Narain Singh said in New Delhi Wednesday that inclusive development with social justice was the election plank of the grand alliance led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Singh told reporters caste was indeed a reality and there were backward castes and as well as forward castes “but I do not accept that caste is everything.” “Development,” according to him, “is a far bigger issue”. The JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine, he maintained, had gone to people on the basis of the work done by Nitish as the Chief Minister.

Pressed for a comment on the statement recently made by Lalu about the caste fight and his call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the alliance to defeat the NDA, the JD(U) leader made it clear that the leader of the alliance was Nitish. “This means development,” he said.

He said if voted to power, the Nitish government will run on the basis of a common programme just as it had during his 10-year rule. He sought to rationalise Lalu’s current casteist stance by arguing that different parties come together during elections. “Some of them do have a caste base, but people of Bihar will vote on the issue of development,” he said, adding “development is far more important to them than caste.”

His party colleague Pawan Verma interjected to say development was “the first and the last issue” for Nitish, but nobody could forget social justice in view of the huge population of deprived sections in Bihar.