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Caste dominates in Bihar’s third round polling

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Patna: Caste, caste, caste… As Bihar readies for the third phase of assembly elections on Wednesday, caste seems to have taken the centre stage yet again.

Although rival claimants for power are talking about issues related to economic development, political activists and voters think it is caste which will finally determine who votes for who.

That has made the Bihar battle all the more tough for everyone.

A total of 50 of the 243 constituencies, nearly a dozen of them urban centric and in the fertile belt in Bihar’s six districts, go to the polls on Wednesday. The five-phase elections end on November 5.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, this region, like most of Bihar, voted overwhelmingly for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP-led four-party alliance wants to repeat the show now.

So the third phase will be a litmus test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s claims of having provided development and good governance.

Nitish Kumar’s home turf Nalanda, known as ‘Kurmistan’ due to the dominance of his Kurmi caste, is likely to back the Grand Alliance of his JD-U, RJD and Congress.

Lalu Prasad’s prestige is at stake as his sons — Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav — are in the fray.

They are contesting from Mahua and Raghopur seats respectively in Vaishali district. Lalu Prasad has vigorously campaigned for them. His wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi has confined herself to the two constituencies.

In both seats, Lalu Prasad’s community may decide the fate of his sons.

The BJP and its allies’ campaign managers know the voting may not follow the Lok Sabha pattern when a Modi wave bulldozed everyone else.

Comments against job reservation made by the RSS chief — later disowned by BJP leaders — has been a major campaign issue.

To counter it, the BJP has claimed that the Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress are trying to ensure job quotas for Muslims.

Modi has presented himself as a “son of poor EBC” (extreme backward caste) tea seller.

Nitish Kumar has taken on Modi over his caste comment.

“From a development driver, he first became an OBC and now he is calling himself an EBC. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a Dalit also in course of time,” the JD-U leader quipped.

The BJP is banking heavily on the EBCs and Dalits and other backward castes, including Yadav voters, to get the winning votes.

It appears confident of the overwhelming support of upper castes along with some OBCs and EBCs as well as Dalits, mainly because of its alliance with former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan.

But in election rallies, both Modi and his foes talk about how to develop Bihar.

About 14.5 million voters are eligible to decide the fate of 808 candidates on Wednesday. Most of the 14,170 polling booths are in rural areas. The six districts where polling will be held are Patna, Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda, Bhojpur and Buxar.

The first phase of voting on October 12 saw polling in 49 assembly seats, followed by 32 constituencies on October 16.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch, 215 candidates in the third round face serious criminal charges including those of murder.

(Imran Khan, IANS)

 

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Democracy Gone to Dogs?

The party leaders in Andhra Pradesh are assuring the "free electricity to all Masjids and Churches", and very special facilities to the students following Islamic faith. Is it not against the constitution to practice open discrimination in terms of religions and castes?

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democracy
Yes, the past sixty years have brought forth absurdities galore in Indian politics. Wikimedia

BY SALIL GEWALI

If a party’s leaders and its “narrow policies” are more important than the country, one should doubt the integrity of the party itself. Its ulterior motive should be exposed. Yes, wild allegations, vindictiveness, deceits are what have been adopted by the majority of leaders of certain political parties. Please note that lot many things in the country have long been going against the very principles of democracy.  Is it not too much that the Congress party should have a high command consisting of only one kind of people? A person with childish immaturity and lacking complete political acumen has been offered the highest post and is given free hand. I think it is utterly disastrous. Not just that, in the party the seasoned political leaders are not allowed to stand tall and throw their weight. Is this not undemocratic itself? This perhaps is driving many people away from party for past few years.

With emphasis I further say that the aspirations of diversified communities cannot be fulfilled by those who have lost in the wilderness of selfishness and raw vindictiveness. Yes, the past sixty years have brought forth absurdities galore in Indian politics. We have leaders who are murderers, we have leaders who have amassed untold wealth and so on. Some of our leaders are under matric who can’t even read the oath’s content correctly.

democracy
We have leaders who are murderers, we have leaders who have amassed untold wealth and so on. Some of our leaders are under matric who can’t even read the oath’s content correctly.

Look at, a person usually ends up being blacklisted for petty wrongdoing which bars him from fighting even for a job. The miseries and worries only await him/her throughout life. But, on the other hand, the political leaders are allowed to run for the topmost posts in the country in spite of several serious criminal offenses and incompetency. Not just that, they can contest the election right from the “jail”. Is this not an abnormal disparity and also the soft underbelly of the Indian polity? Is this a healthy sign of democracy for which we are proud of? Still formidable, some of the parties’ leaders are coming out against the very principle of the sovereign nationhood. True, we have lot many questions than answers.

Very funny, one who ask for votes under the guise of Dalit are bursting with wealth. Yesterday maybe in rags but today they are flushed with riches!  Just check with Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and the like. Were they all not entered politics wearing the outfit of penance and pledging to serve humanity? But they are now found to be involved in numerous unholy deeds. Discrimination, brutality, and arrogance are what they have embraced all along. The solemn terms of significance like a comrade, proletariat, communism of Communist party have almost reduced to the pretext just to eyewash the masses. Under the cover of this ideology, a lot many massacres have been brought off.  Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Mao Zedong must now be shedding copious tears in heaven as their followers are misreading their masterpieces and taking up the arms to hurt humanity.

democracy
We have leaders who are murderers, we have leaders who have amassed untold wealth and so on. Some of our leaders are under matric who can’t even read the oath’s content correctly. Pixabay

Furthermore, here in the democracy you can emphatically speak “lies” and still you can claim yourself as the most truthful. Here the lies can also be “processed” successfully. It involves a simple technique. Repeat that lies as true many times.  Many false ideas have thus been got across as true and vice versa. There are many agencies or service providers these days that discreetly help turn a lie into a wholesome truth. Thanks to the people who have almost learned to accept lies without any grudge!

Nothing could be so disgraceful than the fact that the general citizens are taken for a ride so easily in democracy. Look at, just to win the election the certain National party, more precisely Congress Party, is promising moon. Will giving Rs 72000/- per annum to every poor citizen be viable. The party leaders in Andhra Pradesh are also assuring the “free electricity to all Masjids and Churches”, and very special facilities to the students following Islamic faith. Is it not against the constitution to practice open discrimination in terms of religions and castes?

democracy
Nothing could be so disgraceful than the fact that the general citizens are taken for a ride so easily in democracy. Wikimedia

Yes, no wonder, we just become awestruck by any “falsity” if that comes out from the political party we love to fall back upon. But we strongly condemn and belittle any worthwhile plans and policies if they are formulated and implemented by the party we choose to dislike. How come good initiatives done towards the nation building can be blameworthy? But too strange, that the renowned scholars and columnists come out to criticize and demean them.  One feels, this way we have willfully “blunted the sharpness” of our own intellect and reasoning faculty. We also pollute our thought-process and mislead our general public and hurt the nation.

Here one’s question — ‘should we still hold the custodians of constitution free from blemishes and prejudices?’ No, never they are quite “culpable” for such development. If one dispassionately re-evaluates the cases, one gets overwhelmed by the surge of despondency and regret. Our designated custodians have tolerated so much of lawlessness and the “self-expediency”. A good many past missteps or lackadaisical attitude of the “guardians” of the constitution have led us up to this tragedy. Keeping mum when a house is in fire is itself an open invitation to the trouble. It seems almost the same has happened in Indian politics. The guardians of the constitution have sealed their lips and as a result now we have an uncontrollably tumultuous orgy of political farce.

ALSO READ: PM Narendra Modi Engages with Celebrities to Boost Visibility

Phew, this is how in the cauldron of hot-mix of politics, the leaders without integrity and the confused citizens, the democracy has virtually suffered the irremediable disfigurement.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great Minds on India’. 

Twitter: @SGewali