Millennium Post

Religion, caste and politics

Jaikishen the only Dalit who could win on the Congress ticket from the Sultanpuri assembly constituency can replace Krishna Teerath, the sitting MP from the northwest parliamentary constituency of Delhi. As per the party’s assessment, Teerath is on a sticky wicket particularly after the Aam Aadmi Party swept nine out of the 12 reserve constituencies. Two went to BJP and the Congress could win only one reserve seat and that went to Jaikishen. After the Congress got wiped out in Delhi, Rahul Gandhi told a set of journalists that the Congress lost because the Balmikis did not vote for the party and it needs to recover that vote. The Jatavs have already gone to Mayawati and do not vote for the Congress. The assembly elections showed that the Balmikis, who identified with the AAP broom, voted lock, stock and barrel for Kejriwal. Jaikishen, a Dalit Balmiki, alone could win his seat by a narrow margin. He had no support from the Congress leadership. Now the Congress leadership is nervous over Teerath, who is a Jatav by caste, as the Balmikis are unlikely to vote for her in the Balmiki-dominated constituency. Teerath herself is not sure of winning. Her constituency was included in the two initial primaries selected by Rahul Gandhi. But a nervous Teerath got it freed as she was not sure that her constituency would vote in favour of her. She is not very popular either. Recently, a senior AICC functionary is said to have approached Jaikishen and conveyed to him that the party wants him to contest the northwest reserve Lok Sabha seat. He has been asked to give a thought. The thinking in the party is that Jaikishen alone can win against the popular AAP candidate Rakhi Birla also a Balmiki.   


The credit of the Ram Vilas Paswan-BJP alliance should go to the BJP’s only Muslim MP, Shahnawaz Hussain from Bhagalpur. Rajnath, who had met Paswan at Abhishek Singhvi’s son’s wedding reception and asked him to give a thought to joining the NDA, had assigned Shahnawaz the job to continue with the backchannel talks with Paswan. Taking advantage of Paswan’s simmering disillusionment with Lalu, Shahnawaz brokered the deal with him. A disillusioned Ram Vilas Paswan had no option but to join hands with the BJP. He had been bargaining both with Congress and Lalu Yadav, but while the Congress was dependent on RJD, Lalu was not bothered. He was not giving any positive reply. The BJP which claims to have 12 per cent votes of the upper-caste Ram Vilas’ four to seven per cent votes not only adds up to pay dividends but it would send a strong message isolating the UPA. The BJP has initially offered him six seats but Paswan wants more. He wants Hajipur for himself and Jamui for his son Charag, Samastipur for brother Ram Chander, Vaishali for Rama Singh, Munger for Suraj Bhan’s wife Khagaria. Shahnawaz Hussain who is brokering the deal with Paswan has been heard telling people that Paswan starts bargaining from twelve seats but will agree to joining the NDA if he gets the choices seats for his son and Hajipur for himself.


Serious differences have surfaced within the BJP over the issue of supporting the creation of Telangana along with the Congress. Sushma Swaraj, the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, came under severe attack on her decision of supporting it in the lower house. It was not only L K Advani, who was opposed to it but many others were against supporting the Congress on the issue. Like within the Congress itself, there were many who were totally opposed to the creation of the new state, but the majority who were even for the creation of Telangana were of the opinion that the BJP should not support the Congress and wait for the BJP to come to power to create Telangana.

The BJP’s erstwhile president Venkaiah Naidu literally broke down on Wednesday at their parliamentary party meeting after Sushma Swaraj supported the Telangana bill. It was after this and after the TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu called up Modi threatening to call off their alliance with the BJP that the party changed its strategy in Rajya Sabha and sought amendments instead of giving blind support to the bill. War of words also broke out in the wake of Sushma’s support to the Telangana bill in Lok Sabha between her and the party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman. While Sitharaman expressed her disillusionment over Sushma’s support to the bill, the older leader was quick to retort. Sushma raised the question mark over Sitharaman’s status over having criticised the LOP. ‘Jab Aise Pravakta Hon To Hamari Kya Zaroorat,’ Sushma said.  


Even as the din in Parliament over the creation of Telangana continues in the two houses of Parliament the race for the CM of both Seemandra and the new state of Telangana has begun. Among those who are tipped to be the front runners for the post of CM for Telangana are the union minister Jaipal Reddy and Geetha Reddy. But since the Reddys in Andhra Pradesh are the dominant castes, the party high command may go for an SC or ST or an OBC. Hanumantha Rao, a senior OBC leader, too is a strong contender. But if the TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao finally falls in line and agrees to merge his party with the Congress then he would be Sonia Gandhi’s only choice for the CM’s post. As for Seemandhra, the Congress first choice is ‘president’s rule’ but if the party has to appoint a CM, it will have to choose between the actor turned politician Chirenjeevi and APCC chief Botcha Satyanaryan. Even Raghuveera Reddy is a strong contender.

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