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Modi’s Hunkar rattles Nitish

The CM is engaged in a verbal duel with union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on the issue of prior warning by the Central Government. Secondly, the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, Narendra Modi had made scathing attack on Nitish by calling him a traitor, liar and hypocrite. Nitish has returned the salvo in his own style by dubbing Narendra Modi a liar and a person, who has less knowledge of history.

The main worry of Nitish Kumar is not the personal attack made on him by Narendra Modi. In fact he has paid back for the personal attack, but what is making him nervous is his family and caste background. Bihar is a poor state with majority of its population living below poverty line. There are different figures for poverty of Bihar and according to the claim of Bihar government, 85 percent of people in the state are living below poverty line.

Another factor is the tendency of the Bihar politicians to romanticize the poverty for gaining political edge. Lalu Yadav has been doing it for the last two decades. He had named his many rallies as Garib Rally, Garib Maharally, Garib Rella and Garib Maharella. Lalu was so obsessed with the word Garib (poor) that he named some of the trains as Garib Rath.

So Bihar is driven by this politics of poverty and Narendra Modi, in his Hunkar rally, announced his poor family background by mentioning that he used to sell tea inside the train apartments. In a state, where the poor decide the fate of elections and the poverty is being romanticized for the last two decades, this family background of Gujarat Modi becomes an asset for the BJP.

Not only the poor family background, but also the caste background of Gujarat CM is giving sleepless nights to the non BJP OBC leaders, because Narendra Modi himself belongs to an OBC. caste. OBC population of Bihar is over 66 per cent and Hindu OBCs alone constitute around 54 percent of the total population, the rest 12 per cent OBCs being Muslims. If BJP manages even to get half of the Hindu OBC votes; it may sweep Bihar elections in a triangular contest. Even in a direct fight it will have edge. This is the reason the latest surveys of Bihar are now showing BJP as the front runner among the three main parties in Bihar.

What is making Nitish more nervous is the popularity of Modi among upper caste people. Political observers were expecting that the upper caste people will detest the fact of Modi being an OBC and turn against BJP in large number. But this is not happening; there was a time in Bihar, when it was almost difficult for any OBC leader to be a darling of upper caste population. That was the reason, all OBC leaders used to spread hatred for them to get OBC votes. Lalu was doing it and Nitish was doing the same during the Mandal agitation days of 1990s. Lalu never got the goodwill of upper caste and Nitish had to join hands with BJP to get their support. It is unbelievable for OBC leaders of Bihar that upper caste men of their state would continue to support Narendra Modi even after knowing his OBC background.

The aggressive attitude of dominant OBCs against Modi has further consolidated his support among the upper caste youth and population. The dominant OBCs are not welcoming the rise of Narendra Modi, but the more numerous marginalised OBCs are showing inclination towards him. This has made Nitish Kumar nervous. It was because of the support of marginalised sections of OBCs, Nitish has become the CM, because these sections felt cheated by Lalu, who is blamed for furthering the cause of their own caste men and relatives.

This marginalised sections of OBCs are now feeling upset with Nitish Kumar, who is now being seen espousing the cause of upper castes. The recent acquittal of the accused of massacres by Patna High Court has further tarnished the image of Nitish Kumar among the weaker sections of the OBCs, who were victims of these massacres along with Dalits. These marginalised OBCs may either switch back to Lalu or go towards Modi. Modi, himself, did not mention his social background; rather he talked of unity among all castes and communities. It was Rajnath Singh, who pointed out the OBC background of Modi.

Rattled by the family and caste background of Modi, Nitish is now questioning the credential of the Gujarat CM as an OBC leader. Again in the Chintan Shivir of his party at Rajgir, Nitish started talking of his own poor family background. Nitish had never talked of himself being the son of a poor Ayurved doctor. He was seen talking that in his childhood, he used to help his father in bundling the medicine powder in papers.

After the rally, things seem to be going wrong way for Nitish. Two senior JD (U) leaders attacked Nitish in a way not known and seen earlier. Agriculture minister of Bihar, Narendra Singh challenged Nitish to dismiss him from his government. Another leader Shivanand Tiwari not only started condemning Nitish Kumar, but also praised Modi. It should be mentioned that Tiwari was the most vocal among the JD (U) leaders to criticise Modi, when the alliance was intact. Many times, JD (U) President had to intervene by announcing that Tiwari’s words were not the authorised words of the party, although he was the official spokesman of the party at that time. U turn taken by Shivanand Tiwari speaks a lot about the change of ground level politics in Bihar.

In fact, the politics of Bihar has entered into a very fluid state, where many things have yet to get settled. The OBC politics has changed and similar is the scene of upper caste politics. Muslims are also undecided about their voting preferences. Whether Lalu would come out on bail before Lok Sabah election is also uncertain so is the fate of Nitish Kumar, which will be decided by Ranchi High Court, where a petition demanding institution of fodder scam case against the CM is pending. What would be the politics of Congress? Whether it will join hands with RJD of Lalu or go with Nitish Kumar is also not clear. Amid all these uncertainties, it is difficult to asses the actual impacts of Modi factor in Bihar politics.
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