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Caste matrix brings cheer to JD-U & Co in Bhagalpur

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Bhagalpur, Oct 8: Thanks to Bihar’s known caste equations, the “Grand Alliance” appears to be sitting pretty in most of Bhagalpur’s seven assembly constituencies. This is bad news for the BJP.

Political activists admit that social engineering — or coalition of castes — seems to have worked for the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) as well as the Congress.

But the three-party alliance is facing, like its main foe Bharatiya Janata Party, stiff opposition from party rebels in at least five constituencies.

The BJP has fielded candidates for four seats in the district, leaving two to the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and one to the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

In the other camp, the JD-U is fighting for three seats, and the Congress and RJD two each.

Bhagalpur goes to the polls on October 12 in the first phase of the staggered voting in Bihar.

The BJP has been hit by one of the worst ever rebellions in its rank and file in the Bhagalpur, Kahalgaon and Gopalpur constituencies. The Grand Alliance faces the same problem in Nathnagar and Sultanganj.

There is a direct fight between the two alliances in Bihpur and Pirpainti.

After Buxar MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat was named the BJP nominee from Bhagalpur, party leader Vijay Prasad Sah jumped into the fray as an independent.

Sah, giving sleepless nights to BJP leaders, has made the electoral battle triangular. The Congress has fielded outgoing legislator Ajit Sharma, a billionaire with assets of more than Rs.40 crore.

In Gopalpur, BJP’s former legislator Amit Rana has filed nomination against the party’s official candidate Anil Yadav. Rana, a son of fodder scam convict R.K. Rana, joined the BJP a few months back. Another BJP rebel, Suresh Bhagat, is also in the fray.

The Grand Alliance has fielded outgoing legislator Narendra Kumar Niraj alias Gopal Mandal.

Veteran Congress leader Sadanand Singh, seeking a ninth term in the Bihar assembly, faces a triangular contest in Kahalgaon. His challenge comes from BJP rebel Pawan Kumar Yadav and LJP’s Niraj Kumar Mandal.

In neighbouring Nathnagar, former JD-U leader Abu Kaiser, contesting as Pappu Yadav-led Jan Adhikar Party’s candidate, may spoil the prospects of JD-U’s official candidate Ajay Kumar Mandal.

If this wasn’t enough, Mandal, an outgoing legislator, has another headache: RJD rebel Pappu Yadav. The LJP has fielded Amarnath Prasad alias Amar Singh Kushwaha.

The BJP-led NDA hopes to win this seat as it is expecting the Yadav and Muslim votes to get split.

In Sultanganj, the main fight is between JD-U’s outgoing legislator and former CPI-M MP Subodh Ray and RLSP’s Himanshu Prasad. Vijay Mandal of the BJP and Lalan Yadav of the Congress are contesting independently, and they can’t be ignored.

Bihpur is the only place where the BJP is sure of victory.
It has fielded outgoing legislator Kumar Shailendra, who is in direct fight with RJD’s Varsha Rani, wife of Bhagalpur MP Shailesh Kumar alias Bulo Mandal.

Pirpainti, the only reserved constituency of Bhagalpur, will also witness a direct fight between the BJP and the RJD. The BJP has chosen Lalan Paswan, denying ticket to outgoing legislator Aman Paswan. The RJD has fielded Ram Vilas Paswan.

“We are wining the Bihpur seat comfortably and are in close contest in Nathnagar and Pirpainti,” a veteran BJP leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

But he admitted: “We are facing charges of promoting dynastic politics in Bhagalpur. The same is the case with RJD in Bihpur. People don’t like such politics.”

Ashok Kumar, a homeopathy doctor who is also a cable operator in Nathnagar, told IANS that Bhagalpur’s basic problems were “bijli, pani aur sadak”.

“But ultimately people will vote on caste lines, which goes in favour of Mahagathbandhan,” he said, referring to the Grand Alliance.

“It’s very unfortunate but a reality. People vote on caste lines.

The traditional social base of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad – backward class and Muslims – dominate in Bhagalpur in comparison to the NDA’s leaning on upper castes,” Kumar said.

Sunil Kumar Yadav of S.S.V College in Kahalgaon told IANS: “We want development but Yadavs and Gangotas, along with a sizeable chunk of Kurmis and Muslims, have made the road smooth for the Grand Alliance.”

Sensing the situation, BJP president Amit Shah has sent Navsari MP C.R. Patil to Bhagalpur for micro management at the booth level. Patil and some 40 Gujaratis are camping at the residence of a BJP Yadav leader. Shah has held a workers’ meeting in Pirpainti and addressed a rally in Bhagalpur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also addressed a rally in Bhagalpur, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi pulled crowds in Kahalgaon.

In the last assembly election, the BJP won two seats and the JD-U three in Bhagalpur when they were allies. Two seats went to the Congress.

(Brajendra Singh,IANS)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)