Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Elections2019 Politics

Bihar depends on the Yadav-Muslim caste dynamic again this election

SabrangIndia 17 May 2019

Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Sasaram, Karakat and Jehanabad are the eight seats go to polls in Bihar in the seventh and final phase of India's general election on Sunday, May 19. Many reports suggest that Bihar is being fought on the caste rhetoric again with special focus on the Yadav-Muslim caste dynamic.


Bihar
 
Bihar sends 40 elected members to the Lok Sabha every five years. The fate of the remaining eight will be decided in the seventh and final phase of India's general election on Sunday, May 19.
 
Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Sasaram, Karakat and Jehanabad are the eight seats go to polls in Bihar.
 
In the last general elections, the BJP had won 22 seats, whereas, its allies LJP and RLSP bagged 6 and 3 seats, respectively. The RJD won 4 constituencies, whereas, the Congress and the JD(U) were reduced to 2 each.
 
Many reports suggest that Bihar is being fought on the caste rhetoric again with special focus on the Yadav-Muslim caste dynamic.
 
Key constituencies in the seventh phase
 
Patna Sahib
Patna Sahib covers six assembly segments including the eponymous Patna Sahib, the birthplace of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and one of the five "Takhts" or seat of authority in Sikhism.
 
All attention will on Patna Sahib, a constituency that polled over half million votes in favour of Shatrughan Sinha in 2014 - around 55 per cent of the voter turnout and more than twice the 220,000 votes (around a quarter of the turnout) his nearest rival won.
 
However, it may not be as cut and dry this time for Sinha, who many say, may have done just too little too late to woo a constituency that was being seen as "ripe for a BJP backlash" with an estimated 350,000 Yadav and Muslims votes at stake.
 
Sinha stormed out of the BJP after years of an uneasy relationship with the party high command. He is now contesting on a Congress ticket.
 
The BJP has fielded Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad against Sinha. In 2014, Sinha had won with a margin of over 2.6 lakh votes.
 
The Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat has six assembly constituencies under it out of which five are held by BJP at present and a lone one by RJD. It has traditionally been a Kayastha seat where the caste has around 25 per cent voter base.
 
Altogether 37 candidates have filed their nomination papers for Patna Sahib, which goes to polls in the seventh and final phase of general elections on May 19.
 
Arrah and Jehanabad
In 2019 General Elections, CPI-ML candidate Raju Yadav who is also backed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and supported by the other allies of Grand Alliance will tussle against Bharatiya Janata Party’s sitting MP Raj Kumar Singh.
 
In Jehanabad, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) dropped the sitting MP, Arun Kumar, but he is contesting as an independent candidate.
 
The RJD has fielded former MP Surendra Yadav and the JDU has given a ticket to Chandeshwar Prasad Chandravanshi. RLSP is part of the RJD-led opposition alliance.
 
In Arrah, the RJD, which is spearheading the opposition alliance, has not put up candidates in gratitude to the CPI (ML)’s gesture of not putting up a candidate against Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti in Pataliputra parliamentary seat.
 
There is a direct fight between the right and the Left in this constituency, as Union minister RK Singh is seeking re-election on a BJP ticket while Raju Yadav is the nominee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation).
 
The BJP's Arrah candidate Singh, an upper caste Rajput; and CPI (ML) candidate Raju Yadav, a Yadav, is backed by the RJD this time. Polarisation is pretty sharp among BJP supporters in upper castes, and CPI(ML) supporters among backwards, Dalits and Muslims.
 
In 2015 assembly polls, the RJD had won five assembly seats in Arrah parliamentary constituency while the JDU and CPI (ML) won one each. The RJD and JDU had fought the assembly polls together at the time. Now the JDU led government in Bihar is supported by the BJP.
 
Nalanda
Jehanabad and Nalanda are two seats that BJP has never won. is one of the most high-profile seats in Bihar, the home constituency of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He won from this seat in 2004. His guru, and iconic socialist leader George Fernandes (and former defence minister), won three consecutive elections from Nalanda (1996, 1998 and 1999).
 
JD-U candidate Kausalendra Kumar, a Kurmi, is a sitting MP. Nitish, a Kurmi, is not worried. He is confident about the support of his caste people and combined with the BJP's upper caste base, of victory in Nalanda.
 
Nalanda, Jehanabad and Arrah districts form what is known as the ‘red corridor’, infamous for several caste-based massacres by the dreaded upper-caste paramilitary, the Ranvir Sena, and underground Maoists – the worst being in Laxmanpur Bathe village in 1997, and Shankarbigha village in 1999, in which 58 and 22 Dalits respectively, were massacred.
 
Buxar
This time, the Buxar seat will see an electoral battle between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Jagdananad Singh of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
Choubey is banking on the support of Brahmins who dominate the seat.
 
He won the seat in 2014, thanks to the overwhelming support of his caste people. He is pitted against the RJD's Jagdanand Singh, a Rajput, who is hopeful of getting support from his party's traditional vote base along with his own castemen.
 
Choubey, known to be a vocal supporter of Modi and a champion of Hindutva politics, is trying hard to retain the seat. While he is confident of the support of Brahmins, other upper castes, especially the Rajputs, are not in his favour.
 
In the previous elections held in 2014, Choubey having gained 3,19,012 (35.92 per cent) votes defeated Jagadanand Singh who secured 1,86,674 (21.02) votes. Prior to that in 2009, Jagadanand Singh had outperformed Lal Muni Choubey of the BJP by a margin of 2,238 votes.
 
Lal Muni Choubey, being the most popular leader of the region, won the seat for four consecutive Lok Sabha terms from 1996 to 2004 as a BJP candidate.
 
In 2014 the polling on the seat which took place on April 17, 2014, saw a voter turnout of 54.19 per cent. Other candidates who contested were Dadan Yadav of Bahujan Samaj Party and Shyam Lal Singh of the Janata Dal (United).
 
Buxar is also one of the rare seats in Bihar where the general category castes — the “upper castes” — are in a majority with Brahmins and then Rajputs leading followed by Yadavs and other castes. Voting on caste lines or as directed by caste leaders is a reality here. Conversations inevitably veer round to how caste combinations will pan out.
 
Choubey, a Brahmin, polled 3.19 lakh votes in 2014 while Singh, a Rajput, bagged 1.87 lakh votes. Dadan Singh Yadav, who contested on a BSP ticket, got 1.85 lakh votes and Shyamlal Singh Kushwaha of the JDU won 1.17 lakh votes.
 
Patliputra
RJD chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharati is pitted against BJP's sitting MP and Minister Ram Kripal Yadav for this seat making it a prestige battle between “uncle” and “niece”.
 
While Bharati is relying on sympathy for her father, imprisoned in the Ranchi jail in the fodder scam, her BJP opponent is flaunting the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his development plank.
 
Once with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Ram Kripal Yadav joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014 after being denied a ticket from Patliputra. Amid a Modi wave, he defeated Misa Bharti by over 40,000 votes then.
 
Some of the other candidates in the fray then were Janata Dal-United candidate Ranjan Prasad Yadav and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) nominee Rameshwar Prasad.
 
The Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat came into existence post-delimitation of Patna and nearby regions. The constituency is named after the erstwhile capital of the Magadha empire that became an epitome of prosperity and cultural heritage in its time.
 
Today’s Pataliputra, however, is rural in character and has been a hotbed of Maoist activities. It has also witnessed an agrarian crisis.
 
There are also some who are upset about the Bihar government’s stand on sand excavation and liquor ban as the livelihood of a large number of people were dependent on this.
 
In 2014, Ram Kripal Yadav had won by a margin of 40,000 votes (39.16%), while the RJD’s share was 35%. The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had polled 9% votes.
 
What lies ahead
This highly-politicised state has regard for Nitish’s no-nonsense politics and inclusive approach, which cuts across caste lines and respect for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma. However, the caste factor still runs strong to hand out a fair chance to the jailed Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) whose caste (Yadavs) accounts for 14 per cent of the state’s electorate. Congress is a relatively small player.
 
Lack of job creation and absence of industries in Nitish’s 13-year sway is, however, a sore point for the electorate — and this could work against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
 
As for the Muslims who account for a sizeable 17 per cent of the electorate, the BJP is normally anathema but the joining of Nitish in the alliance has weaned away a section of them towards the NDA.
 
A section of Muslims believe that Nitish is an insurance for them against any excesses by the BJP and that could prove the NDA’s saving grace.
 
All in all, the contest in Bihar could be keen but the NDA seems to have an edge, especially with Modi with all guns blazing taking on the opponents in the final stage.
 
As far as demography is concerned, Yadavs form the biggest number of voters, followed by Bhumihars, Rajputs, Kurmis and Muslims. Another 18.36% of the electorate is Scheduled Caste.
 
The total number of voters in the seat is 17 lakh of whom nine lakh are men and eight lakh are women.
 
The cumulative vote of the BJP and JD(U) is approximately 48%, while grand alliance’s share sums up to another 40%.
 
The BJP and JD(U) are allies today. Aware of the current scenario, the NDA leadership has convinced several local influential leaders to join the alliance with their supporters.
 

Bihar depends on the Yadav-Muslim caste dynamic again this election

Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Sasaram, Karakat and Jehanabad are the eight seats go to polls in Bihar in the seventh and final phase of India's general election on Sunday, May 19. Many reports suggest that Bihar is being fought on the caste rhetoric again with special focus on the Yadav-Muslim caste dynamic.


Bihar
 
Bihar sends 40 elected members to the Lok Sabha every five years. The fate of the remaining eight will be decided in the seventh and final phase of India's general election on Sunday, May 19.
 
Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Sasaram, Karakat and Jehanabad are the eight seats go to polls in Bihar.
 
In the last general elections, the BJP had won 22 seats, whereas, its allies LJP and RLSP bagged 6 and 3 seats, respectively. The RJD won 4 constituencies, whereas, the Congress and the JD(U) were reduced to 2 each.
 
Many reports suggest that Bihar is being fought on the caste rhetoric again with special focus on the Yadav-Muslim caste dynamic.
 
Key constituencies in the seventh phase
 
Patna Sahib
Patna Sahib covers six assembly segments including the eponymous Patna Sahib, the birthplace of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and one of the five "Takhts" or seat of authority in Sikhism.
 
All attention will on Patna Sahib, a constituency that polled over half million votes in favour of Shatrughan Sinha in 2014 - around 55 per cent of the voter turnout and more than twice the 220,000 votes (around a quarter of the turnout) his nearest rival won.
 
However, it may not be as cut and dry this time for Sinha, who many say, may have done just too little too late to woo a constituency that was being seen as "ripe for a BJP backlash" with an estimated 350,000 Yadav and Muslims votes at stake.
 
Sinha stormed out of the BJP after years of an uneasy relationship with the party high command. He is now contesting on a Congress ticket.
 
The BJP has fielded Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad against Sinha. In 2014, Sinha had won with a margin of over 2.6 lakh votes.
 
The Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat has six assembly constituencies under it out of which five are held by BJP at present and a lone one by RJD. It has traditionally been a Kayastha seat where the caste has around 25 per cent voter base.
 
Altogether 37 candidates have filed their nomination papers for Patna Sahib, which goes to polls in the seventh and final phase of general elections on May 19.
 
Arrah and Jehanabad
In 2019 General Elections, CPI-ML candidate Raju Yadav who is also backed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and supported by the other allies of Grand Alliance will tussle against Bharatiya Janata Party’s sitting MP Raj Kumar Singh.
 
In Jehanabad, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) dropped the sitting MP, Arun Kumar, but he is contesting as an independent candidate.
 
The RJD has fielded former MP Surendra Yadav and the JDU has given a ticket to Chandeshwar Prasad Chandravanshi. RLSP is part of the RJD-led opposition alliance.
 
In Arrah, the RJD, which is spearheading the opposition alliance, has not put up candidates in gratitude to the CPI (ML)’s gesture of not putting up a candidate against Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti in Pataliputra parliamentary seat.
 
There is a direct fight between the right and the Left in this constituency, as Union minister RK Singh is seeking re-election on a BJP ticket while Raju Yadav is the nominee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation).
 
The BJP's Arrah candidate Singh, an upper caste Rajput; and CPI (ML) candidate Raju Yadav, a Yadav, is backed by the RJD this time. Polarisation is pretty sharp among BJP supporters in upper castes, and CPI(ML) supporters among backwards, Dalits and Muslims.
 
In 2015 assembly polls, the RJD had won five assembly seats in Arrah parliamentary constituency while the JDU and CPI (ML) won one each. The RJD and JDU had fought the assembly polls together at the time. Now the JDU led government in Bihar is supported by the BJP.
 
Nalanda
Jehanabad and Nalanda are two seats that BJP has never won. is one of the most high-profile seats in Bihar, the home constituency of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He won from this seat in 2004. His guru, and iconic socialist leader George Fernandes (and former defence minister), won three consecutive elections from Nalanda (1996, 1998 and 1999).
 
JD-U candidate Kausalendra Kumar, a Kurmi, is a sitting MP. Nitish, a Kurmi, is not worried. He is confident about the support of his caste people and combined with the BJP's upper caste base, of victory in Nalanda.
 
Nalanda, Jehanabad and Arrah districts form what is known as the ‘red corridor’, infamous for several caste-based massacres by the dreaded upper-caste paramilitary, the Ranvir Sena, and underground Maoists – the worst being in Laxmanpur Bathe village in 1997, and Shankarbigha village in 1999, in which 58 and 22 Dalits respectively, were massacred.
 
Buxar
This time, the Buxar seat will see an electoral battle between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Jagdananad Singh of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
Choubey is banking on the support of Brahmins who dominate the seat.
 
He won the seat in 2014, thanks to the overwhelming support of his caste people. He is pitted against the RJD's Jagdanand Singh, a Rajput, who is hopeful of getting support from his party's traditional vote base along with his own castemen.
 
Choubey, known to be a vocal supporter of Modi and a champion of Hindutva politics, is trying hard to retain the seat. While he is confident of the support of Brahmins, other upper castes, especially the Rajputs, are not in his favour.
 
In the previous elections held in 2014, Choubey having gained 3,19,012 (35.92 per cent) votes defeated Jagadanand Singh who secured 1,86,674 (21.02) votes. Prior to that in 2009, Jagadanand Singh had outperformed Lal Muni Choubey of the BJP by a margin of 2,238 votes.
 
Lal Muni Choubey, being the most popular leader of the region, won the seat for four consecutive Lok Sabha terms from 1996 to 2004 as a BJP candidate.
 
In 2014 the polling on the seat which took place on April 17, 2014, saw a voter turnout of 54.19 per cent. Other candidates who contested were Dadan Yadav of Bahujan Samaj Party and Shyam Lal Singh of the Janata Dal (United).
 
Buxar is also one of the rare seats in Bihar where the general category castes — the “upper castes” — are in a majority with Brahmins and then Rajputs leading followed by Yadavs and other castes. Voting on caste lines or as directed by caste leaders is a reality here. Conversations inevitably veer round to how caste combinations will pan out.
 
Choubey, a Brahmin, polled 3.19 lakh votes in 2014 while Singh, a Rajput, bagged 1.87 lakh votes. Dadan Singh Yadav, who contested on a BSP ticket, got 1.85 lakh votes and Shyamlal Singh Kushwaha of the JDU won 1.17 lakh votes.
 
Patliputra
RJD chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharati is pitted against BJP's sitting MP and Minister Ram Kripal Yadav for this seat making it a prestige battle between “uncle” and “niece”.
 
While Bharati is relying on sympathy for her father, imprisoned in the Ranchi jail in the fodder scam, her BJP opponent is flaunting the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his development plank.
 
Once with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Ram Kripal Yadav joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014 after being denied a ticket from Patliputra. Amid a Modi wave, he defeated Misa Bharti by over 40,000 votes then.
 
Some of the other candidates in the fray then were Janata Dal-United candidate Ranjan Prasad Yadav and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) nominee Rameshwar Prasad.
 
The Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat came into existence post-delimitation of Patna and nearby regions. The constituency is named after the erstwhile capital of the Magadha empire that became an epitome of prosperity and cultural heritage in its time.
 
Today’s Pataliputra, however, is rural in character and has been a hotbed of Maoist activities. It has also witnessed an agrarian crisis.
 
There are also some who are upset about the Bihar government’s stand on sand excavation and liquor ban as the livelihood of a large number of people were dependent on this.
 
In 2014, Ram Kripal Yadav had won by a margin of 40,000 votes (39.16%), while the RJD’s share was 35%. The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had polled 9% votes.
 
What lies ahead
This highly-politicised state has regard for Nitish’s no-nonsense politics and inclusive approach, which cuts across caste lines and respect for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma. However, the caste factor still runs strong to hand out a fair chance to the jailed Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) whose caste (Yadavs) accounts for 14 per cent of the state’s electorate. Congress is a relatively small player.
 
Lack of job creation and absence of industries in Nitish’s 13-year sway is, however, a sore point for the electorate — and this could work against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
 
As for the Muslims who account for a sizeable 17 per cent of the electorate, the BJP is normally anathema but the joining of Nitish in the alliance has weaned away a section of them towards the NDA.
 
A section of Muslims believe that Nitish is an insurance for them against any excesses by the BJP and that could prove the NDA’s saving grace.
 
All in all, the contest in Bihar could be keen but the NDA seems to have an edge, especially with Modi with all guns blazing taking on the opponents in the final stage.
 
As far as demography is concerned, Yadavs form the biggest number of voters, followed by Bhumihars, Rajputs, Kurmis and Muslims. Another 18.36% of the electorate is Scheduled Caste.
 
The total number of voters in the seat is 17 lakh of whom nine lakh are men and eight lakh are women.
 
The cumulative vote of the BJP and JD(U) is approximately 48%, while grand alliance’s share sums up to another 40%.
 
The BJP and JD(U) are allies today. Aware of the current scenario, the NDA leadership has convinced several local influential leaders to join the alliance with their supporters.
 

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020

Archives