Major Bihar parties eye Rajput vote

In Bihar’s caste-driven politics, the upper-caste Rajputs are being actively wooed by the state’s major parties in order to ensure their victory in the Assembly polls.
The trend got a quiet boost after Lalu Prasad Yadav got former Janata Dal (United) MP and prominent Rajput leader Prabhunath Singh into the Rashtriya Janata Dal earlier this month.

With the impression gaining deeper ground in Bihar’s political circles that the RJD-LJP combine could get a decisive advantage of its new equation of dalits, OBCs, Muslims and Rajputs, the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine is currently working to secure the undivided votes of the upper castes, who are considered to be upset with the Nitish Kumar government for a variety of reasons.
The influential, increasingly ambitious caste of Rajputs are said to possess “powers” to decide the electoral results in as many as 60 of Bihar’s total 243 Assembly constituencies. According to a recent survey conducted by the Rajput Mahasabha, an organisation of this caste, the Rajput voters number more than 25 per cent in these 60 constituencies.
Anti-NDA sentiments among the Rajputs was spearheaded right since the 2009 Lok Sabha polls by chief minister Nitish Kumar’s critic and rebel JD(U) leader Digvijay Singh, who won the Banka LS seat as an independent and then led an upper-caste rebellion against Mr Kumar’s government till his untimely death recently. The JD(U) is reportedly asking the late Singh’s widow to join the party and contest the Assembly polls in order to improve the ruling party’s appeal among the Rajputs.
In a string of caustic statements against Kumar’s government recently, the articulate Prabhunath Singh has been claiming that the Rajputs, who had played a role in bringing the JD(U)-BJP to power, would not support the ruling combine this time.
Both the JD(U) and the RJD are currently persuading jailed former MP Anand Mohan, a major Rajput leader, to lend his support.
With many Rajput supporters being upset with the Bharatiya Janata Party for allegedly inadequate representation to their leaders in the party’s different morchas both in Bihar and nationally, BJP leaders are planning to allocate tickets to more Rajputs than earlier, said party sources.

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