End of Mandal era, says Bihar JD(U) chief Bashistha Narayan Singh

first_imgThe spectacular performance of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar was a result of not just the “Modi wave” but also of a new post-Mandal era of politics in the State, Janata Dal(U) State president Bashistha Narayan Singh says. Mr. Singh, who has participated in electoral politics in the State since the anti-Emergency movement, had been a Minister in the Lalu Prasad Cabinet between 1990 and 1994 before he resigned and joined the Samata Party. RJD’s downfall“These polls have heralded the end of the Mandal era in the State’s politics, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) drawing a blank and the NDA doing so well,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu. “Social phenomenon and events change with time and people’s demands also change, and people look ahead to what is better for them. Before 2005, Lalu Yadav [RJD chief Lalu Prasad] had made a strong coalition of intermediate castes, consolidated them and created an aspiration for power among these communities. Then after around 2005, they tried to accommodate Mahadalits and communities such as the Pasi community. The surprising thing is that from 2005 to 2019, they still believed that they could get to power just on the basis of caste arithmetic. They took Upendra Kushwaha (Rashtriya Lok Samata Party), Mukesh Sahani, aka “Son of Mallah”, and Jitan Ram Manjhi [Hindustani Awam Morcha] for this reason,” he added. He said that despite the fact that caste was still a “hard reality” of electoral politics in the State, governance and factors that transcended caste, such as the support of women the NDA got in these polls, were important factors. “The first variable was the reservation in government jobs and panchayats for women. Women started to feel they had a stake in public life, and the system that has delivered to them should be continued. Bihar, through seven phases, saw high polling among women — Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj, Bhagalpur, Banka, Madhepura and Supaul, in fact, saw women having an upper hand in voting. The support base of women helped us transcend caste arithmetic,” Mr. Singh said.Prohibition impact“Prohibition, despite people’s reservation about it, helped women greatly. Bihar has seen a 50% drop in cases of domestic violence, according to reporting at police stations. The third factor was the 360-degree improvement in roads and electricity supply. In 2015 itself, [Bihar Chief Minister] Nitish Kumar had said if we don’t improve electricity supply, we won’t get voted back,” he said. RJD’s ‘miscalculation’The symptoms of this break in OBC consolidation came up in 2010, according to him, when Mr. Kumar won his second term. “And in 2015, when our vote joined an organised vote of Laluji, the RJD got 80 seats and that party tried to project that those 80 seats were all due to its own support base consolidating and that it could defeat anybody. They undermined our contribution to winning those 80 seats, and it boomeranged on them.” The 2019 Lok Sabha election , therefore, had definitely rung the curtain down on the Mandal era of a consolidated OBC vote bank, he added.last_img read more