With caste census masterstroke, Nitish looks beyond 2024 to 2025 polls

With caste census masterstroke, Nitish looks beyond 2024 to 2025 polls

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Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar . (Photo: IANS)

Manoj Kumar Pathak

Patna, Oct 8 (IANS) The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar might have played a major card by publishing the Bihar caste survey on Gandhi Jayanti, months ahead of the Assembly polls to be held in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and not to forget the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and 2025 Bihar Assembly polls.

Amid opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s to the caste-based survey, Nitish Kumar's decision to publish the survey may have been the checkmate move of the opposition INDIA bloc against the NDA ahead of the 2024 polls.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, both the NDA and INDIA bloc have started asking for people's votes adhering to their respective political strategies. On the one hand, the BJP has passed the contentious Women's Reservation Bill by convening a special Parliament session while Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar played a masterstroke in the country's politics by conducting caste survey in the state.

There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar is considered a clever politician who has successfully been able to stitch various caste equations in his favour. Despite winning a lesser number of seats in the 2020 Assembly elections, Nitish Kumar has been in power as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the last 18 years.

The introduction of caste survey in Bihar is also being linked to this political strategy planned by the Janata Dal (United) Chief. According to political observers, Nitish Kumar has played a political masterstroke for the 2024 Lok Sabha election and 2025 Bihar Assembly election.

Nitish Kumar first united the anti-BJP front parties in Bihar and recently followed it up by releasing the caste survey report. 

There is no doubt that caste plays a significant role in the Assembly elections in Bihar. However, Opposition BJP in Bihar has made its political strategy clear regarding the Women's Reservation and religious issues.

Political analysts say that Nitish Kumar has tried to keep not only BJP at bay but also his INDIA bloc allies without overstepping their political boundaries by playing the masterstroke card of the caste survey.

As per political observers, RJD's core vote bank mainly comprises the Yadav-Muslims, therefore the Bihar Chief Minister has tried to woo Muslims and Extremely Backward Class (EBC) voters with the introduction of caste survey. 

According to the recent caste survey, the percentage of EBC population in Bihar is 36 per cent, while the population of Yadavs in the state is 14 per cent.

Bihar political expert Manikant Thakur says that caste survey is a purely political move. 

"Nitish Kumar has tried to improve his dwindling political image again and to position himself as a strong leader at the national level," Thakur added.

He said that the political move by Nitish Kumar is to stop the consolidation of Hindu votes by BJP, adding that he has been dividing the various Hindu castes and sub-castes earlier as well for political gains.

However, Thakur also says that not only questions are being raised on this caste survey report in Bihar but after this report was released, aggrieved voices are also being raised regarding the share of the population which will receive the benefits of its reservation. If more population groups raise their demand for availing reservation benefits as per the caste survey, then the ruling Grand Alliance in Bihar may face further difficulties on the political front.

Thakur further adds that BJP could find a solution to the caste equation politics of Nitish Kumar by fighting elections on the poll plank of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas" and nationalism.

However, Nitish Kumar has made a bold political move before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections by releasing the caste survey report in Bihar. Whether it proves beneficial or detrimental to the political career of Nitish Kumar, only time will tell. 

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