Once bitten, twice shy? BJP moves quickly to prevent 2015-like blunder ahead of Bihar Assembly elections

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Updated: June 13, 2020 5:11 PM

The BJP-JDU combine needs to fend off anti-incumbency against CM Nitish Kumar as well as trump the calculated caste matrix in Bihar. Clearly, there is nothing it can leave to chance.

jp nadda, reservation in indiaBJP president JP Nadda said that the Modi government is committed to social justice and providing reservation to weaker sections. (File pic)

Reservation Is Not A Fundamental Right: Days after the Supreme Court ruled that reservation is not a fundamental right, the Bharatiya Janata Party, realising the sensitivity of the issue, moved quickly to ensure that its opponents do not turn it into an issue that can hurt its prospects in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections. Soon after the top court’s observation, the BJP wasted no time to make its stand clear and stated that the party is committed to reservation.

BJP national president JP Nadda on Friday accused the opposition of spreading misinformation on reservation and said the party and the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi were totally committed to social justice and providing quotas to weaker sections.

“Some people keep trying to spread misinformation on the issue of reservation. The Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party are committed to providing reservation. Our commitment to social justice is unshakeable. We stand committed for reservation and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly said this,” he said.

Nadda’s comment is significant as it came just a day after the Supreme Court ruled that right to reservation is not a fundamental right. It also said refusing to provide reservation benefits cannot be treated as a violation of any constitutional right.

The ruling BJP’s timely clarification on the matter came as it sensed that the Supreme Court observation on the sensitive issue of reservation could have serious political implications, especially in the Bihar polls. Clearly, the BJP learnt a lesson from the 2015 blunder when it was pushed on the backfoot after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark on reservation policy, something that is believed to have hurt the BJP.

Although the scenario has changed in Bihar this election, the saffron party doesn’t want to provide the opposition any opportunity to hurt its prospects in a state where caste arithmetic still decides outcomes in elections. The party already knows that it will have to absorb the opposition’s anger on issues like CAA and lockdown in the political landscape of Bihar that is dominated by caste.

In the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, the opposition parties of which Janata Dal (United) was a part, had unleashed a flurry of attacks at the BJP, accusing it of being anti-reservation after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark. Bhagwat had pitched for a review of reservation policy just ahead of the polls and said that it has been used for political ends. Besides, he had suggested setting up a committee to examine who needs the facility and for how long.

Bhagwat’s remark had stirred a major controversy with the opposition leaders in rallies alleging that the RSS and BJP are in favour of ending reservation and the saffron party clearly appeared on the backfoot. Although the BJP leaders including PM Narendra Modi clarified that reservation will not end, the RSS chief’s remak had already caused severe damage to the BJP in the state assembly polls as the party fell flat before the caste matrix of Bihar politics.

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