Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister, aims to project himself as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Nodi in 2019. Taking into account his activities after getting re-elected as the Bihar CM last year, there is no doubt about his PM ambition. Now a report says that the Bihar CM’s strategists have started the exercise of uniting various backward communities to cobble up a caste and social-based coalition to ensure that Kumar emerges as the main opponent of PM Modi in the 2019 General Elections.
For this purpose, they plan to bring together the backward castes and others such as Kapus, Gurjars, Patidars, Ahirs, Jats, Marathas, Vokkaligas, Kurmis and Muslims. A report in the Sunday Guardian (SG) says that “primary thinking” of Kumar’s strategists is to follow the “Mandal mantra” of caste-based reservation, revive and galvanised it to their benefit.
In the last 10-15 days, the report says that leaders of several backward communities and others, including Hardik Patel of Gujarat, who is leading an agitation for reservation to Patels, the All India Jat Mahasabha, Rajasthan Gurjar Arakshan Samiti, Vokkaliga Sangh have asked Kumar to lead their agitations across the country. Hardik sent a letter to Kumar last week, inviting him to visit Gujarat. Kumar also responded positively by saying he would visit Gujarat next week, according to the report.
Not only his supporters and strategists, Kumar has also given hints of his plan for the future. Recently at the National Council meeting of JD(U) at Rajgir, Kumar had said India was facing an agrarian crisis which has forced the once prosperous agrarian castes, such as Jats in Haryana, Patidars in Gujarat and Marathas in Maharashtra, to demand reservation benefits. The SG report says that this was Kumar’s way of “sending feelers” to the affected communities to join him for a better future.
The report quotes JDU general secretary KC Tyagi as saying the large pro-reservation rallies that are happening in different parts reflect that many communities and castes are not in a good condition. “Members and leaders of these communities have called upon Nitish Kumar to lead their agitation. This is going to go beyond Mandal.”
While Kumar would visit Gujarat after the New Year’s celebrations to extend his support to Patidars, he will take part in a similar programme for the Vokkaligas in Karnataka in the second week of November. Kumar is also expected to visit Delhi to attend a meet of the All India Jat Mahasabha, which wants to felicitate him for extending his support to their reservation demands.