Hit by the reservation sting in the 2015 assembly election, the BJP on Saturday contradicted JD-U national president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's promise to have population proportionate reservations.
Nitish Kumar, while speaking at an election rally in Tirhut on Thursday, suggested that there should be reservations proportionate to the population of different castes. "There is no second opinion about it," he announced.
However, this has not gone down well with alliance partner BJP as Union Law, Justice and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad clarified his party's stand and said: "BJP will not deviate from the present constitutional provisions on reservations. There cannot be any action independent to the provisions in the Constitution. There will be no dilution. BJP will not be drawn into any controversy on reservation issue."
BJP reacted swiftly to the promise of the CM as it feared the upper caste voters may shift their loyalty from the party as they did in the 2015 assembly election. Forward castes are considered the key vote bank of the BJP in Bihar.
In 2015, during the peak of the campaign, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had issued a statement recommending a "review" of the reservation policy. RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was out on bail then, made it a major election issue and in his speeches told the RJD workers if BJP was voted to power, reservations of the SC, ST, OBC, and EBC would be abolished. This resulted into polarisation of the OBC and EBC votes against the BJP and it lost the election to the then Grand Alliance of the RJD and the JD-U.
The second phase of election in 94 constituencies on November 3 is being held in the North Bihar districts, which have a sizable number of forward caste voters, particularly Brahmins and Rajputs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing four election meetings on Sunday at four places — Motihari, Bagaha, Chhapra and Samastipur. Except Samastipur, the remaining 3 are considered areas dominated by Brahmins and Rajputs.