Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has set his eye on a consolidation of ‘Mandal-plus’ communities across the country to become a pivotal figure in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. To halt PM Narendra Modi juggernaut, Kumar will seek to extend his footprint beyond his state. Reports suggest that he will travel across the country and express solidarity with reservation demands by various communities — Patidars in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharasthra, Jats in UP, Gurjars in Rajasthan, Kammas and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Vokkaligas in Karnataka.
The JD(U) national president, also had expressed concern over these communities’ dwindling agriculture income and called for the “largest possible unity” against the BJP. Invitations have come from Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel in Gujarat, Sudhir Sawant of Maratha Kranti Morcha, Himmat Singh Gurjar of Rajasthan Gurjar Aarakshan, Yudhveer Singh of Jat Samaj in UP and Appaji Gowda of Karnataka State Vokkaligara Sangha. In a letter, Hardik welcomed Nitish’s support to the quota demand. Notably, last year, Hardik had declared his support to Nitish ahead of the Bihar polls.
Sawant and Gurjar thanked Nitish for “understanding the plight” of agitating communities. And Yudhveer Singh thanked Nitish for “his support for inclusion of Jats in central list of OBCs” and invited him to UP.
In 2014 general elections where the BJP and JD(U) fought separately after a political divorce in 2013, Nitish Kumar’s party was down to just two seats. But, in a stunning comeback, Kumar led the Grand Secular Alliance that managed to keep BJP at bay in the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections.
“Nitish will consolidate the support of these farming communities, who are neither upper caste nor OBC. He does not want any cut in the existing quota of 27 per cent quota for OBCs,” a JD(U) leader said while indicating the possible blueprint that Kumar will folllow. “By raising their economic plight, he has started a new debate. He will counter Hindutva with Mandal-plus of all farmer castes, some of them left out in the Mandal Commission report”, according to the Indian Express report.
Keeping an eye on the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, JD(U) plans a rally with RLD chief Ajit Singh and will invite Pawar and Deve Gowda.
Nitish, in turn, has been invited to a Kurmi-Gowda conference in Bengaluru in November. Appaji Gowda of Karnataka State Vokkaligara Sangha, which is organising the event jointly with Akhil Bharath Kurmi Samaj, to be presided over by Deve Gowda, says they will address Kurmis, Patidars, Vokkaligas, Reddys, Kudumbars, Gounders, Nayars, Patils and Jats.