Nitish calls it Annexure-1 politics

Patna, Nov 20 | Updated: Nov 21 2005, 05:30am hrs
The various exit polls may well point to a hung Assembly again, but NDAs chief ministerial candidate Nitish Kumar is certain that there will be a clear verdict this time and all depends on who the extremely backward castes (EBCs) vote for.

The results may go this way or that way. But all depends on who the EBCs vote for this time. If they vote for us, then we will win, else Lalu will, says Mr Kumar, who was Bihars chief minister once (for seven days in 2000) and many times close to becoming again.

The EBC votes were scattered earlier. But this time they are united and they count for more than 35%, the JD-U leader says, not wanting to sound as if he is on the edge of victory.

Annexure-1 politics has come to the fore, he says referring to the nearly 100-odd EBCs originally listed in Annexure-1 of the Mungeri Lal commission report that was implemented by the Karpoori Thakur government in 1978.

Mr Kumar had walked along with and RJD chief Lalu Prasad during the backward caste movement in the early nineties, before falling apart later with earlier, before falling out.

The very beginning of my differences with Lalu started with him wanting to do away with Annexure-1 of the Mungeri Lal report with the Mandal Commission, Mr Kumar points out.

Indicating that there was a polarisation of votes between the NDA and RJD-led Secular Democratic alliance, he says, A major chunk of the EBC vote will go the NDA way, in addition to the upper backward castes like Kurmis and Koeris. Moreover, all the upper castes who had even voted for parties such as CPI-ML and BSP to defeat RJD, will vote en bloc for NDA.

There is no change in the mindset of people to remove Lalu. In fact, this time Lalu is not a factor at all as people want to give NDA a chance to form a government, he asserts.

On the bahubali (muscleman) culture pervading the Bihar political scenario, Mr Kumar blames the Congress for having started the trend in the 70s, which percolated to all parties. Many LJP legislators who supported us last time were promised tickets in the current elections. We are only keeping our word. One must either stick to ideal politics or on forming a government that will work for developing Bihar, he says on being asked why JD-U had distributed tickets to many candidates with criminal backgrounds.

There has been a sea-change in elections this time as it has been independent, free and fair with many negative aspects being eliminated. Even bahubalis will have to get the poor peoples votes to win elections, he says, adding, Besides, I am no bahubali.