BJP hopes to revive rainbow caste coalition

BJP hopes to revive rainbow caste coalition

Party to woo Kurmis, Yadavs into its fold again in Bihar

BJP hopes to revive rainbow caste coalition

With the Nitish Kumar-led NDA winning the trust vote on Friday, the BJP hopes to revive the old rainbow castes’ coalition, comprising the “most backwards and forwards”.

The party had failed to put together the coalition in the absence of the JD(U), inviting a heavy political drubbing in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls.

Nitish's return, BJP leaders believe, will also fill the void of a strong and clean leadership in Bihar, which was another reason for the party’s failure against the RJD-JD(U)-Congress Grand Alliance.
Though the BJP had attempted social engineering by engaging the Kushwahas and Musahars, the party had failed to cut much ice in the strong social matrix represented by the Opposition alliance which had Kurmis, Yadavs and Muslims in its kitty, apart from the mileage it got from a tall regional figure like Nitish.

The new ruling alliance of the JD(U), BJP and other smaller parties got 131 votes with the help of Independents, which was way above the halfway mark of 122, while the Opposition managed 108 votes. Nitish explained in the Assembly the mandate he got was not to “serve a family”, hinting at RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, but for a transparent and clean government. But, by embracing the BJP, Nitish appears to have compromised on his national ambition.  

The BJP leaders believe it has been able to overcome the Assembly poll setback as the Kurmi leader's return will help consolidate the most backward communities and other backward castes, minus the Yadavs, in favour of the saffron outfit before Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes back to the people in two years for a second innings as the prime minister.

Together with the forward castes, the BJP believes it stands a fair chance of doing well in the next Lok Sabha elections on 120 seats of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Learning from the mistakes of Bihar, the BJP leadership had targeted individual most backward caste-based parties, like Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party whose president Om Prakash Rajbhar was rewarded with a ministerial berth after the NDA's big win in Uttar Pradesh.

The move to support Nitish stems from Modi's discourse to show case that only NDA satraps can provide corruption-free government at the Centre and states, said a BJP leader. On the other hand, the Opposition parties run governments are unable to get rid of the taint, the BJP leader
added.

The challenge for the BJP, however, would be to put its flock of mandal leaders from Bihar - Nitish, Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha, Jitan Ram Manjhi - together. While Paswan and Manjhi have welcomed Nitish's return to the NDA fold, Kushwaha - a friend-turned-rival of Nitish - has not been very forthcoming on the events unfolding in his native state.

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