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Lohiaite Nitish to Embark on a New Journey With Paswan on Ambedkar Jayanti

Nitish’s party Janata Dal (United) has said that April 14 event would be a historic moment. This comes after the recent nationwide upheaval over amendment in SC/ST Act and communal strife in Bihar.

Alok Kumar | News18dmalok

Updated:April 4, 2018, 6:59 PM IST
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Lohiaite Nitish to Embark on a New Journey With Paswan on Ambedkar Jayanti
A file photo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seen along with Union Minister Ram Vilash Paswan (Image: PTI)
Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan would share the dais on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti. The increased interaction between the two leaders is being watched keenly in the political circles and has set the rumour mills abuzz.

The two leaders have met four times in the last one month.

Nitish’s party Janata Dal (United) has said that April 14 event would be a historic moment. This comes after the recent nationwide upheaval over amendment in SC/ST Act and communal strife in Bihar.

Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, the third non-BJP alliance partner in NDA, would also attend the function. Its leader and union minister Upendra Kushwaha has endorsed Paswan and Nitish’s point of view. Both had criticised BJP leaders for making provocative statements and stressed the need to take all sections of society along.

Post BJP leaders' communally polarising statements, political observers feel Nitish’s JD(U) and Paswan's LJP fear getting alienated from the Muslims and Dalits.

Lohiaite Nitish has been close to the ideology of Jan Nayak karpoori Thakur, who propagated caste struggle instead of class struggle and fought for the rights of Backward classes.

Nitish hails from Kurmi community, but, after his falling out with Lalu Prasad and except during initial years, he never endorsed caste politics. Though, he kept endorsing Karpoori Thakur’s ideology, who had for the first time identified Most Backward Classes (MBCs) among OBCs.

Nitish went a step ahead and created a separate group called Mahadalits among Dalits in 2007, a step vehemently opposed by Ram Vilas Paswan as he saw in it an attempt to divide Dalit vote bank. On the recommendations of Mahadalit Commission, 18 of the 22 Dalit castes, Dhobi, Musahar, Nat, Dom and others, were carved out. They constituted 31 percent of total Dalit population.

Later on Chamar, Paasi and Dhobi were also included into the list which further disturbed Ram Vilas Paswan. Interestingly, now only Dusadh and Paswan community are out of Mahadalits. Dalits have 16 percent vote share in Bihar, including five percent shares of Dusadh community which has been rallying behind Ram Vilas.

Clearly, Nitish’s move damaged Paswan’s image as a Dalit leader. With Paswan cozying up to Nitish, a demand has been put forth to the CM – abolish the distinction between Dalits and Mahadalits and include Paswan community in the list of Mahadalits.

Nitish Kumar is likely to make an announcement in this regard on April 14. Many JD(U) leaders believe It will help him consolidate non-Yadav OBC/EBC and Dalit vote bank.

Not only Paswan and Dalit Sena, headed by his MP brother Ramchandra Paswan, but other leaders, including Mahadalits, have raised this demand. Senior JD(U) leader Shyam Razak, from Dhobi community, says, “Only perception was created when Nitish ji formed Mahadalit Vikas Mission and Commission. They are getting priority in welfare schemes. Nothing else. There is no division in reservation as is the case with OBC and EBC in our state.”

So what are the options before Nitish? A senior JD(U) leader said, “If he merges Dalits and Mahadalits, then he will lose whatever support he enjoys among Mahadalits. So, he will simply include Paswan community in the list of Mahadalits.”

Talking to News18, state’s urban development minister Maheshwar Hazari said, “We have also requested to treat Dusadh community as Mahadalit. We will again raise our demands on April 14. We are hoping he (Nitish) will listen to us.”

Nitish avoids attending any function organised by caste based groups. Just a week ago, Paswan community celebrated Baba Chauharmal birth anniversary, whom they revere as god. Leaders across party lines, including deputy CM Sushil Modi, headed to Mokama, where his temple is built, and Patna. Nitish, though, stayed away.

Thus, Nitish attending Ambedkar Jayanti function organised by Dalit Sena assumes significance.

It will also give him a chance to offset the loss of Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, who joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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