By Dheeraj Kumar
Patna: Numbers are heavily stacked against dominant Bhumihars as well as Brahmins this Lok Sabha election in Bihar.
The upper caste Bhumihars are considered as traditional vote bank of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The BJP has this time clearly ignored this caste by allocating only one party ticket to contest election this time. By all measures the party has taken a calculated risk by overlooking the dominant Bhumihar caste, notwithstanding the fact that its alliance partners, the Janata Dal (United) as well as the Lok Janshakti Party too have both fielded one Bhumihar candidate each in the fray, taking the the total number of Bhumihar contestants from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to 3 in the state. The JD (U) has fielded Bihar Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, a close confidant of chief minister Nitish Kumar from Munger, while BJP has given ticket to another prominent Bhumihar leader Giriraj Singh, but he was shifted to Begusarai. LJP has given ticket to Chandan Kumar from Nawada constituency.
It may be mentioned that the BJP is contesting 17 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state and has left an equal number of seats for its NDA partner, the Janata Dal (United) while the remaining six seats has gone to another National Democratic Alliance constituent, the Lok Janshakti Party.
Caste arithmetic has always played a dominant role in any election in Bihar and this Lok Sabha election is not an exception. While the NDA has given only one ticket to Muslim as JD (U) fielded Mehmood Ashraf from Kishanganj, the alliance has fielded just two brahmins in the fray — union minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey will contest election from Buxar and Gopal Ji Thakur from Darbhanga. .
Feeling marginalised in the BJP, Bhumihars have now started showing their frustration over the shabby treatment meted out to them in the ticket distribution.
BJP sources said that former union minister and veteran party leader Dr C P Thakur had made it clear before the party leadership that his caste (Bhumihar) members had been neglected in ticket distribution.
It is apprehended that Bhumihars remained completely aloof during the first phase of Lok Sabha election in Bihar on April 11 when four constituencies of Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada and Jamui had gone to poll on April 11 this year.
With no clearly visible wave either in favour of NDA or grand alliance, caste factor has assumed greater significance this election. So both NDA and grand alliance have tried their level best to please their respective caste constituencies by fielding more number of candidates from their castes. This has meant the backward castes getting preference over the forward castes.
Among the forward castes, only the Rajputs could get a “fair” deal from the NDA which has fielded seven Rajputs in this election- union minister Radha Mohan Singh from Purvi Champaran, Janardan Singh Segriwal from Maharajganj, Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Saran, Raj Kumar Singh from Ara, Sushil Kumar Singh from Aurangabad and Veena Devi from Vaishali (LJP) and Kavita Singh from Siwan (JD-U).
Yet only two Brahmins are given the NDA tickets — union minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey will contest election from Buxar and Gopal Ji Thakur from Darbhanga.
Among Other Backward Castes (OBCs), Yadavs has maximum five NDA tickets – Ashok Kumar Yadav from Madhubani, Dinesh Chandra Yadav from Saharsa, Giridhari Yadav from Banka and Ram Kripal Yadav from Patliputra and Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai from Ujiarpur.
Yadavs are followed by Kushwaha (Koeri) and Vaishya three each. Among Kushwahas, NDA has fielded Vaidyanath Prasad Mahto from Valmikinagar, Santosh Kumar Kushwaha from Purnea and Mahabali Singh from Karakat.
Among Vaishyas, NDA fielded Sanjay Jaiswal from West Champaran constituency, Rama Devi from Sheohar and Sunil Kumar Pintu from Sitamarhi. NDA has fielded only one Kayashtha, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is pitted against Congress nominee Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib constituency.
Among extremely backward castes, the NDA has fielded Rampreet Mandal from Jhanjharpur, Dileshwar Kamat from Supaul, Pradeep Singh from Araria, Dulalchand Goswami from Katihar, Ajay Nishad from Muzaffarpur, Ajay Kumar Mandal from Bhagalpur and Chandeshwar Prasad Chandrawanshi from Jehanabad.
Kurmi, an OBC and relatively well educated caste has been given only one ticket as JD (U) fielded Kaushalendra Kumar from Nalanda constituency. Scheduled Castes have been given six tickets in seat sharing deal among NDA`s constituents.
NDA has fielded Alok Kumar Suman from Gopalganj, Pashupati Kumar Paras from Hajipur, Ramchandra Paswan from Samastipur, Chhedi Paswan from Sasaram, Vijay Kumar Manjhi from Gaya and Chirag Paswan from Jamui.
On the other hand grand alliance, comprising RJD, Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of former union minister Upendra Kushwaha, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahni, popularly known as ‘Son of Mallah’ have mainly given tickets to OBCs particularly Yadav, Muslims and Extremely Backward Castes.
Grand alliance has given 10 tickets to Yadav followed by 7 to Muslim, 4 each to Rajput and Ravidas, three to Koeri, two each to Bhumihar and Mallah and one each to Brahmin, Kayastha, Gangota, Kahar, Dangi, Pasi, Musahar and Sudhi.