Patna, Oct 19
Desperate to woo Mahadalits & Kuswahas
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he feedback of the first two phases of poll for 81 out of 243 seats for the Bihar assembly has sent shockwaves in the BJP, forcing it to recalibrate its strategy for the next three phases. Top NDA leaders on Sunday night held an emergency meeting in Patna to discuss how to reverse the trend of the first two rounds by wooing back a section of the Dalits and Kuswahas, who did not vote for the BJP as aggressively as it was expected.
The late night meet was attended among other by BJP president Amit Shah, LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, senior state BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav, former Chief minister Jitanram Manjhi and RLSP leader Upendra Kuswaha.
Top sources told this correspondent that the party reviewed the performances of the first two rounds and decided that despite adverse feedback its must put up a brave face so that the cadres remained upbeat.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he meeting also took a close look at the pattern of the first two phases of polling and several leaders expressed their worries over less than expected support coming from the Mahadalit and Kuswaha segments to the NDA.
Reports from the ground have suggested that a large section of the Kuswahas voted for the “grand alliance” led by Nitish Kumar. This is a serious cause of concern for the NDA because it was counting on a cornering en bloc support of the six percent Kuswahas due to the presence of Upendra Kuswaha in the BJP-led alliance. As per reports, Kuswaha voters felt disenchanted with lower representation given to their candidates by the NDA in comparison to the Grand alliance. In many cases, the Kuswahas voters also backed their caste candidates put up by other parties.
Similarly, among the 16 per cent Dalits and Mahadalits, while Paswans and Manjhis voted for the NDA in large numbers, Chamars, Pasi and others went either with the Grand alliance or the Bahujan Samjwadi party led by Mayawati.
Kuswahas, Dalits and Mahadalits have sizeable presence in the assembly segments where elections were held in the first two phases. The BJP had expected to do very well, espececially in the second phase, but reports from different quarters suggest that it cannot expect to get more than 17-18 seats out of 32 in this round. In the first phase, the party was likely to be routed and could hope to get a maximum of 15 seats. Put together in the first two phases, the NDA could bag 31-33 seats and the Grand Alliance 48-50.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]ources said that the meeting decided to take all necessary steps to bring back the Kuswaha and Mahadalit votes to the NDA fold and bring back focus on the development planks. The NDA leaders feel that because of favorable caste equation they are better placed in the next two phases in which 105 seats are at stake.
“We will try to maximize our gains in these two round and go into the last lap with a massive lead,” said a BJP leader.
However, with buzz growing louder in media and political circles that the NDA was trailing in the first two phases, the alliance will have to do a lot of work to keep the morale of the workers and prevent the flight of floating voters towards the `Grand alliance.’ The fact also remains that boith Upoendra Kuswaha and Manjhi come from Central Bihar and have very little influence among the voters of their castes north of Ganga where majority of the seats going to the polls in the next three rounds are located.
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