Dadri turns Bihar debate into Mandal versus Beef

Patna : Lalu Prasad Yadav’s thrust on keeping the Bihar debate focused on Mandal or backward empowerment has been tweaked by the Dadri lynching and the BJP is now hoping for a Hindu polarization in the essentially caste-ridden Bihari society.

The party’s strategy was reflected early on Monday as BJP Bihar leader Sushil Modi tweeted that the party would frame legislation to ban cow slaughter if voted to power. “When we form government in Bihar we will bring a law to ban beef, so that slaughtering of cows could be stopped. When I was a minister, I had stopped hundreds cows being taken to Assam in trains (for slaughtering). This is a fight between those who eat beef and those who are against cow slaughter,’’ he said.

Sushil Modi also attacked Lalu Prasad saying the election was a ‘‘direct contest between those justifying beef eating and those seeking effective ban on cow slaughter.’’

Sushil Modi was reacting to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s ‘‘Hindus also eat beef’’ remark. With Lalu Yadav bent on turning the Bihar assembly polls into a ‘Mandal versus others’ battle, the BJP has latched onto the Dadri lynching incident and the subsequent beef controversy, in which is embedded the potential for polarizing the majority Hindus.

The controversy seems to have become a timely tool as the party managers and strategists were worried over the reservation debate becoming a hurdle in wooing the Extremely Backward Castes whom the BJP has been eyeing in a big way.

Meanwhile, Lalu Yadav sheepishly remarked on Monday that his ‘‘tongue appeared to have been possessed by the devil’’ when he made the controversial remark. Lalu’s apologetic tone was explained by a Yadav leader of his own party who pointed out that the clarification was necessary as the earlier remark could damage the prospects among Yadavs who were traditionally cowherds and valued the cow progeny above anything else.

Smita Mishra

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