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Bihar polls: Caste etched in heart, ‘silent’ in spelling

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Bihar polls poster war

My name is Ajeet Bharti. However my father has another surname. Similarly, some of my friends have weird surnames like Kumar (the most prevalent in our generation), Sundaram, Ranjan, and Raj etc. Why is that weird? It is weird for they do not project caste, village or lineage as surnames are supposed to do worldwide. None of us have our fathers using such surnames in Bihar from my father’s generation. My father uses Singh, Kumar’s father uses Sahay, Sundaram’s father uses Gupta and so on.

These are manufactured surnames, often borrowed to hide the caste we belong to. The most prevalent, widely used surname in my generation is Kumar and Kumari (for girls). Literally, Kumar means an unmarried boy, and Kumari means, an unmarried girl.

When we look at it from a distance, from a perspective alien to Bihar, we can marvel at the idea of not having surnames that represent an identity. An identity which is often taken negatively by the people that take notice of. While at our school, Sainik School Tilaiya, most of the cadets didn’t have any surname that could reveal their caste.

This was a good thing for us on campus as we didn’t have to fiddle ourselves around who to sit with and who to talk to as we had no idea of caste. At the same age, my nephews, conditioned by the the social structures, very much know why they shouldn’t sit and eat with a guy from lower caste.

The doing away with surnames to hide the caste identity gained momentum after the Bihar Movement, helmed by dynamic Jayprakash Narayan or JP, as he is popularly known as. It was late 70s that the demand of reservations and upper caste people’s wrath ensured that the lower caste people hid their identities.

The surnames became a means to target the lower caste in jobs, exams, and at educational institutions along with the prevalent social stigma.

However, the time took a turn and lower caste people started targeting the upper caste as they reached good positions in various fields due to merit and reservation. This was the time when the upper caste people started to hide their surnames under Kumar, Raj etc.

From one angle, it is a beautiful thing to have. People respecting (or hating) people for what they are and not for what castes they belonged to. The menace of this carcinogenic idea becomes visible, and talked about, whenever elections take place.

Political importance

Ideologies, promises, perks and issues take a backseat when elections are announced in Bihar. I vividly remember an aspiring MLA ticket seeking industrialist from my district, taking stock of the caste factor every single morning I visited him. It was a daily ritual for him.

Everyone is, perhaps, clear about ‘how things work’ in Bihar. Jumlebazi is reserved for press meets and rallies. Development issues, problems of state are merely printed words in the manifesto. It is not that people don’t want to hear them or to see them getting realised, rather caste factor in Bihar elections is so rampant, that it percolates to the gene-level.

The aspiring ticket seeker I talked about, would micro-manage the caste equation. Ratio of Bhumihars (An upper caste) in a particular village, influential Bhumihars, Bhumihar mukhiyas would all be printed in a sheet as he would mark out the names on the voter list with caste column written by pen.

It would be followed by how to tackle low-caste dominated areas where the strategists would suggest trying to get the area declared as ‘sensitive’ which would result in lower percentage of polling.

(Mis)use and (ab)use of caste

The most dangerous, and pathetic, portrayal of the caste takes place when every leader from every party starts to use the ‘formula’ to woo voters. Convicted criminals like Lalu Prasad Yadav use the caste card to fool the voters. I remember the days when the schools in my village and adjoining places had no roofs, no teachers and everything was left to the Sun god.

This was the time when Lalu ruled. This was the time when his simple formula was to keep the mass uneducated and tell them anything and without any resource to ascertain the fact, they would believe. Precisely the reason why everyone from my generation had to study in mushrooming private schools or come to places like Delhi.

Now, Lalu Prasad Yadav, a convict who can’t fight elections, is going to rallies and spreading false ideas like BJP wants to end reservation etc. He is trying hard to sell himself as a messiah, a champion of the poor and Dalits. However, the fact remains that if Dalits or Yadavs are one of the most illiterate classes from Bihar, it is due to his ignorance.

Singing the same old tune on a broken harp, RJD supremo, with no other issue in sight, described the crucial Assembly polls in Bihar as a direct fight between the backward castes and forward castes. He gave a clarion call to Yadavas and other backward castes to rally behind the ‘secular alliance’ to defeat the BJP-led NDA.

This is an unfortunate situation for Biharis who are ridiculed for this kind of fixation with caste. It is sad that someone, convicted of scams and barred from fighting elections, has the audacity to incite the caste factor vocally when the Election Commission’s code of conduct is in force.

Lalu’s friend-turned-foe-turned-friend Nitish Kumar coined a term like EBC (Extremely Backward Class) and initiated a series of policies for their betterment. When he came in power in 2005, everyone had hopes. He did work hard to improve education and transport infrastructure. Roads are visible in villages, and schools have buildings.

People saw a ray of hope in Nitish Kumar. He became the metaphorical silver-lining in cloud for Bihar.

However, in the last two years he dumped the development politics and focussed himself on replying to ‘jumlas’ and jibes from BJP. When the future looked bleak, he had to shake hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav and try to justify it by playing the communal and secular cards. These cards didn’t do any good to any party in the 2014 elections as BJP moved ahead with issues while all others tried to counter it by sloganeering.

Caste equations and its implications came to the fore when Lalu, imitating Indira Gandhi’s ‘Garibi Hatao’, gave the election-cry: BhuRaBaL Hatao. Where ‘BhuRaBaL’ denotes the top four upper castes in Bihar: Bhumihar, Rajpoot, Brahman, and Lala.

Centuries of oppression of lower caste was somehow subverted with Lalu’s ascent as they gave him 15 years of power that saw no governance. Deliberate ignorance to policy making was evident when Nitish came to power in 2005 and the state had nothing to lose as it had seen its nadir during Lalu’s ‘Jungle Raaj’. However, it did no good to the lower caste as Lalu was just preparing his family case while (not) running Bihar.

Recalling Lalu’s impact of governance (or the lack of it) in his Telegraph column in 2014, Ramachandra Guha remarked, “Murders and kidnappings were common. It was unsafe to walk the streets of Patna after dark. It was unsafe to drive in many districts even during the day. Fifteen years of rule by Lalu Prasad and his family had depleted the state’s finances and demoralized the bureaucracy.”

Assembly elections

Recently, when Lalu and Nitish were seen ‘championing’ the cause of lower caste (again) by making statements centred around caste, BJP swiftly said it would ensure that CM is not from upper caste.

But the question is, will this caste card have the same impact this time? If we go by this article on Indian Express, the mahadalits (EBCs) who had voted Nitish to power are now disenchanted by his theatrics and handshake with Lalu.

As the election dates are nearing, mud slinging has started with jibes like ‘chaara-chor Lalu’ (Fodder thief Lalu) and ‘Narbhakshi Amit Shah’ (Cannibal Amit Shah). Jungle Raj 2, Madal Raj 2 are the phrases in vogue as Bihar goes to vote.

It is an undeniable fact that as with the search for a suitable groom people go for caste and gotra match, similarly, during elections people vote for caste.

The reason is, they have no other connection from these leaders who seldom have anything else to offer. However, increased literacy and awareness has made this habit somewhat less obvious.

Ticket distribution pattern and caste

NDA has announced its list of candidates for the elections and the caste factor is abundantly clear in the ticket distribution. Although the upper caste constitutes just about 15% of Bihar’s population, it does influence the lower caste votes. They are the opinion leaders in villages where they dominate the power.

Unless, there is a reserved seat for the lower caste as mukhiya, the panchayat seldom gets a lower caste village chief. Even in the reserved seats, the backward caste candidate that wins is the one with the backing of upper caste.

For the coming Bihar polls, as many as 84 upper caste candidates have been fielded by NDA out of the total 243 seats in the assembly. This includes 36 Rajputs and 28 Bhumihars, the two dominant castes of the state.

The grand alliance (JD-U, RJD and Congress), for the 85% of Bihar’s backward population (including OBCs), has announced 64 Yadavs – 48 of them by the RJD alone – apart from 33 Muslims as candidates. This reflects the traditional social support base of MY (Muslim-Yadav) for the RJD and JD-U.

Apart from these 97, the alliance is also dependent on on the OBCs- Koeris and Kurmis. A total of 47 candidates from OBC, 30 Koeris and 17 Kurmis (Nitish Kumar’s caste men), have been fielded by the grand alliance.

The break up looks like this: OBC+EBCs 55%; Muslims 14%; SC+ST 16%; general or upper caste 16%. (percent data is in approx values)

Let’s see how it unfolds

It’s just a matter of few weeks when the results would be announced. It would be interesting to see if Biharis choose to fall for the ‘caste factor’ or go after the rhetorical ‘development’ agenda. Given the increasing literacy rate, still among the lowest in nation, and penetration of social media, people might have better idea of their leaders.

However painful it is for me, as a Bihari, to write this, but caste is not going to go away that easily from the Bihari psyche. Caste equation might not be so obvious in this election as in the 1990s but, for certain, it will have an impact till the realisation of its ghastliness comes to the voter.

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Lalu Yadav is Shamelessly Corrupt and a Fake Secular

The author Gaurav Tyagi asserts that Lalu’s party RJD, should be disbanded and a life ban should be imposed on Lalu plus his kin from pursuing political careers. Read on to know why!

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Lalu Yadav
Does Lalu Yadav portray himself as the ‘messiah’ of Muslims by aligning with fundamentalist Muslim preachers? Wikimedia


– by Gaurav Tyagi


New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : 
26th July witnessed a big political drama in India, when Nitish Kumar, the C.M. of Bihar submitted his resignation.

The government in Bihar was a coalition of three political parties; Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Congress.

Nitish was back in the C.M’s chair, the very next day due to the support extended to his party, JD (U) by BJP to form the government in Bihar.

The coalition of the aforesaid three parties thereby collapsed, which annoyed Lalu Yadav, the head of RJD a lot.

Lalu Yadav hijacked the plank of secularism to indulge in blatant corruption and promote his family in politics.

Secularism implies the principle of separating government institutions as well as politicians from religion and religious figures. In India the meaning of secularism has entirely been altered by politicians like Lalu, who openly woo Muslim fundamentalists from Mosques and waste government funds in order to appease them.

Lalu keeps on harping upon keeping Muslims safe in Bihar. Maintenance of law and order is the foremost task of any elected government, what’s the big deal in it?

ALSO READ Dynasty syndrome: Lalu chosen as RJD chief for 9th time

Lalu’s politics involves developing vote banks from his caste comprising of Yadavs and Muslims.

He portrays himself as the ‘messiah’ of Muslims by aligning with fundamentalist Muslim preachers and gangsters like Shahbuddin.

Lalu never addresses the root cause of poverty and backwardness among Indian Muslims.
It is largely due to the community shunning of mainstream educational institutes and going to worthless madrasas, (Muslim religious schools) which primarily focus on students, rote learning of the Muslim holy book; Koran.

In the absence of modern knowledge, madrasa graduates are unable to improve their material prosperity and face the challenges of contemporary society.

The Ulemas or the Islamic scholars’ regressive attitude is reflected in the following statement of Maulana Samiul Haq, of the Haqqania madrasa, a prominent Deobandi madrasa; “Young minds are not for thinking. We catch them for the madrasas when they are young, and by the time they are old enough to think, they know what to think.”

Fake seculars like Lalu would never tell Muslims to study in proper schools because an educated Muslim can easily decipher the tricks played by such politicians.
A large number of illiterate or madrasa brand Muslims suit Lalu because then by showing the fear of BJP and Hindus, these Muslims can be easily turned into vote banks for his political party.

CBI, ED and other government agencies recently conducted large number of raids on Lalu and his family. They discovered Billions amassed by this so called ‘champion of oppressed’.

Lalu accumulated large number of farm-houses, land holdings, companies etc. in the name of his family comprising of his illiterate wife and 9 children; 7 daughters and 2 sons.

Both his sons, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, are school drop-outs. The former was the deputy CM of Bihar with various ministerial portfolios, while the latter was the Health Minister of the province in the coalition government.

Lalu Yadav
Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav at a public event. Twitter

Lalu was declared guilty by the courts for his lead role in the Bihar fodder scam worth thousands of Crores. Lalu Yadav was jailed for 135 days in 1997 but he was lodged in a Bihar Military Police guest house with all comforts.

Before his incarceration, Lalu installed his uneducated wife Rabri Devi as the C.M. of Bihar. Lalu was jailed on various other occasions for his involvement in the aforementioned swindle.

Every time, Lalu was put in prison, he received 5 star hotel facilities and got bail easily. Lalu continued being the de facto C.M of Bihar by inducting his wife as the rubber- stamp C.M. of Bihar.

He was finally sentenced to a 5 year jail term in October 2013 by a special CBI court.
Instead of being in a jail, he is again out on bail, busy in enriching and establishing his progeny in politics.

A poster for Lalu Yadav’s political rally in Patna on Sunday, 27th August depicted one of Lalu’s foolish son as Lord Krishna while the other buffoon is shown as Arjun. Lalu’s daughter and Rajya Sabha M.P, Misa Bharti is depicted as the famous freedom fighter, Rani of Jhansi; Lakshmibai. Lalu and his wife Rabri are blessing their children in this poster.

What a mockery of historical and religious characters.

Lalu is saying that he and his family are being victimized. These utterances constitute ‘heights of shamelessness’.

Lalu indulged in blatant corruption and misuse of office for personal gains. On getting exposed he started parroting; this is a conspiracy of BJP and law would take its own course.

These terms in India mean that court cases would drag for 20-30 years. The politician will die but the court proceedings would still remain pending.
Classic example is Jayalalitha, the court cases against her were continuing since, 1996 but the final judgment was passed in 2017 after her death.

Lalu’s son, Tejashwi Prasad, the Ex-Deputy C.M of Bihar was a member of IPL cricket team, Delhi Daredevils for 4 years from 2008-2012.

ALSO READ Lalu’s son Tej Pratap faces his first electoral test in Mahua

During these 4 years, Tejashwi didn’t play a single game for Delhi Daredevils.

Which sporting team in the world would keep such a useless player in its squad?

Delhi Daredevils is owned by GMR group. This business house must be investigated, as to what were the compelling reasons behind continuous retention of this trash cricketer, who wasn’t competent to play even a single game during 4 seasons.

What were the financial benefits given to Tejashwi? Did the GMR group receive concessions from Lalu Yadav in exchange for keeping his son in Delhi Daredevils team? These are serious issues and need further investigations.

Misa Bharti, eldest daughter of Lalu Yadav is a Rajya Sabha M.P. She topped the MBBS examination of Patna Medical College Hospital during the late 90’s.

Misa never excelled in her classes, either at school or college. At her convocation, the presenter of the degree requested her not to treat any patients ever.

Lalu through his clout in Bihar first got her admission into MBBS and then deceptively made her a topper.

Misa Bharti after topping her MBBS studies and obtaining her medical degree did not work as a Doctor even for a single day, neither did she start her own medical practice.

This is humbug Lalu Yadav, the ‘self- styled’ protector of Muslims and ‘self- declared’ skipper of the Indian opposition political parties, comprising of so called secular forces but in reality just corrupt family controlled political dynasties.

Lalu and his political clan should be imprisoned for at least a minimum period of 10 years with provisions of no bail plus hard labor in the jail.

All undeclared properties; including land parcels, bank accounts, commercial businesses, residences etc. unearthed by the authorities during raids on Lalu and his family must be confiscated by the central government.

Lalu’s party RJD, which is nothing more than a corrupt family enterprise should be disbanded and a life ban imposed on Lalu plus his kin from pursuing political careers.

An exemplary example needs to be made of this corrupt, Lalu so, as to deter other existing as well as budding ‘Lalu Prasad Yadavs’, abounding in the Indian political system from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

 

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.

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Bihar Floods Hit 74 Lakhs people across 14 Districts, Death Toll rises to 72

Due to bad whether, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Deputy Sushil Kumar Modi could not conduct an aerial survey scheduled for earlier

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Bihar Floods
Evacuation is underway as floods hit Bihar. Wikimedia
  • The incessant rains in the Nepal and surrounding regions have triggered floods in the state of Bihar
  • The Floods have affected the lives of more than 73 lakhs people
  • Around 72 people are feared dead in the recent natural disaster

Bihar, August 17, 2017: The recent floods in Bihar, caused by the incessant rains in the Nepal and surrounding region, has destroyed the lives of a number of people.

Around 73.44 lakh people are estimated to be affected some way or the other by the natural disaster. Further, the death toll has reached 72.

ALSO READ: Chakma Refugees in India’s remote Northeast Forgotten in Floods : Charity World Vision

State Disaster Management Deparment’s special secretary, Anirudh Kumar has told PTI that the flood has affected people across 14 districts of the state. The highest number of deaths are from the Araria District (20), followed by Sitamarhi (11), West Champaran (9), Kisanganj (8), Madhubani (5), Purnea (5), Madhepura (4), Darbhanga (4), East Champaran (3), Sheohar (2), and Supual (1).

Further, today the Gopalganj area was submerged as the floods ruthlessly continue.

Anirudh Kumar also informed that more than 2.74 lakh people have been evacuated and relocated by the Disaster Management Team. 1.16 lakh out of them have been settled for the time being in 504 relief camps spreading across the region.

Pratyay Amrit, the principal secretary of the disaster management department also spoke to PTI. He informed them that community kitchens have been initiated for marooned areas victims.

Due to bad whether, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Deputy Sushil Kumar Modi could not conduct an aerial survey scheduled for earlier.

The natural disaster has also affected the railway systems. Many trains on different routes have been short terminated, short originated, canceled or diverted.

The Chief Minister’s relief fund has received 11 lakh in donations from Nityanand Rai, Bihar’s BJP President.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Bihar Cabinet Inducts 27 Ministers as New Nitish Government is Formed

Out of the total 27 ministers, 12 are BJP representatives while 14 are from JD(U) itself

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Bihar Cabinet
Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister. Wikimedia Commons
  • After a big political drama, the new Bihar Cabinet has inducted 27 Ministers
  • Nitish Kumar has now given the BJP highest share of representation in the new government with 12 ministers
  • Sushil Kumar Modi 11from BJP has been chosen by the CM as his deputy

July 30, 2017: Recently, there was a sudden change in Bihar’s political status quo. Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister, dumped his previous allies to form a new government. 27 Ministers have been inducted in the new Bihar Cabinet.

Also Read: Amul Acts Cheeky on Nitish Kumar’s ‘Divorce’ With Lalu Prasad Yadav

Nitish’s party, the JD(U), had previously allied with the Congress Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Having dumped them, Nitish and his party have allied with BJP. As a result of the new formation, new representatives have been chosen by the Cabinet. Additionally, the CM has chosen BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi as his deputy.

Out of the total 27 ministers, 12 are BJP representatives while 14 are from JD(U) itself. One member is from the Lok Janshakti Party. The Chief Minister has given the BJP highest ever representation. The total number of ministers from BJP in the 2010 Nitish-BJP coalition was 11. The political situation in Bihar has been turned on its head.

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Nitish Kumar has taken up the responsibility for general administration, home, and vigilance departments. His deputy from BJP will be responsible for the forest, finance, IT, and commercial tax. The department of energy, excise and prohibition went to Bijendra Yadav from JD(U).

Also, Kumar’s new cabinet has one woman minister and one minister from the minority community. Both belong to the JD(U). From BJP’s side, EBC and SC communities have been given representation. The BJP ministers were reportedly shortlisted by Deputy Sushil Kumar and Nityanand Rai, the Bihar BJP President. Also involved in the selection were BJP President Amit Shah and the Union Minister Arun Jaitley.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394