Published: May 3, 2010 20:08 IST | Updated: May 3, 2010 20:29 IST
Patna, May 3, 2010
Caste-based "Confidence Yatras" colour Bihar's political horizon in
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's much vaunted refrain of transcending
caste-based politics seems to have taken a backseat this crucial
assembly election year, with a slew of "confidence yatras" and "raths"
designed to appease different castes and communities, suddenly
peppering Bihar's political horizon.
There seems to be no dearth of creativity to this identity politics,
as the ruling Janata Dal (United) has ensured there is something for
everyone - women, minorities, the backward classes, the upper castes,
the Maha Dalits – you name it.
A look at this catalogue would certainly have gladdened the heart of
marketing guru Philip Kotler, as every "yatra" is a shrewdly designed
political offering - segmented, targeted and positioned to the hilt.
After Mr. Kumar's "Vishwas Yatra" which kick-started from West
Champaran this Thursday, the Janata Dal (United) will be undertaking
no less than seven such "yatras," with the aim of wooing every caste
and community in the state.
The "Karpoori Rath", named after the erstwhile Chief Minister Karpoori
Thakur, will be launched with the purpose of reinforcing the positive
work done by the government in the minds of the extremely backward
More theatrics is set to follow in the EBC sphere, with JD (U) leader
and RJD defector, Dr. Bhim Singh all set to launch his "Dhanyavad
Yatra" whose purpose will be to thank Mr.Kumar for his efforts in
improving the lot of the EBC community in the State.
Next in line is the "Aman Yatra," which is specifically targeted at
the Muslim population of the state with the ostensible aim to remind
them of the riot-free atmosphere generated by Mr. Kumar during his
four year term.
Women too have a customised offering in the form of "Swavlamban
(Self-reliance) yatra", which will stress on the various steps
undertaken by the NDA government for their uplift during the last four
and a half years.
Ditto is the case with the "Nirbhay Rath" targeted at the Vaishya
(Bania) community with the purpose of "reminding" the state's traders
of the commerce-friendly law and order situation created by the ruling
"They are necessary to check the vicious disinformation campaigns
undertaken by the opposition parties," JD (U) state president, Mr.
Vijay Choudhary had remarked earlier.
"These tactics are designed to quell dissent within the party as well
as keep its functionaries engaged in this crucial election year.
Naturally, it is also to prevent the inevitable horse-trading that is
bound to follow before the polls," says Akhilesh Kumar, a senior
journalist and political observer.
Meanwhile, the anti-Nitish Kumar dissident lobby, prominent among who
is ex-JD (U) state president Rajiv Ranjan Lallan Singh, will be
launching a "Kisan Maha panchayat" on May 9 with the aim of inciting
the upper-castes against Mr. Kumar, especially on the latter's
proposed action to give tenancy rights to 'bataidars' (sharecroppers)
in the state.
Among the opposition parties, only the Congress has started something
of this kind so far, with its 50-day "Parivartan Yatra (change
inducing journey)" taking off in February this year.
The event, which was launched with state-in charge Jagdish Tytler and
state President Anil Kumar Sharma mouthing a litany of RJD chief Lalu
Prasad Yadav's past crimes and misdemeanours and lashing out at the
ruling NDA government, already seems to have lost its steam with
severe internal wrangling paralysing it.
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