Why BJP is not announcing CM candidate?


Soroor Ahmed

There are several factors––apart from the failed Kiran Bedi experiment in Delhi early this year––which is preventing the Bharatiya Janata Party from declaring any chief ministerial candidate in Bihar.

Unlike Bedi, who had joined the saffron party sometimes before the election, there are several experienced leaders in Bihar unit of the saffron party.

In the caste-ridden state the party does not want to take any risk, which is not just political, but social in nature as well.

Seven months after the election of prime minister from a Teli-Ghanchi community of Gujarat the BJP legislature party on December 26 last elected Raghuvar Das as the chief minister of Jharkhand. Like in Maharashtra and Haryana it did not announce any CM candidate before the election.

In this new state carved out on November 15, 2000 in the name of tribals the BJP opted for Raghuvar Das, a Sahu Teli, originally hailing from Chhattisgarh––then undivided Madhya Pradesh. His poor parents shifted to Jamshedpur in the then southern part of Bihar in search of job more than four decades back. Raghuvar was then quite young. Later, he worked in Tata Steel.

Ever since its creation Jharkhand always had an adivasi chief minister. The BJP not only broke this tradition but its legislature party also elected a person who, incidentally hails from the caste of Narendra Modi, as the chief minister.

The Jharkhand movement, launched by various tribal leaders, always held industrialists, coal mafia, big sahukars and mahajans (money-lenders) responsible for the exploitation of the original population in the name of development. They were dubbed as ‘dikkus’ or outsiders. These sahukars and mahajans would extract huge interest on the money given as loan to tribals and other poor people of the region.

However, 10 months after electing a Sahu as a chief minister the BJP is in another dilemma in Bihar. Top in the race for the post of chief minister is none else but former deputy CM, Sushil Kumar Modi, who also comes from a trading community.

Like Raghuvar Das, whose family shifted from Chhattisgarh, the origin of Sushil Modi’s family can be traced outside the state––in Rajasthan. So the BJP leadership thought that it would not be very appropriate to fight election with SuMo as the chief ministerial candidate.

While Raghuvar Das had served as the deputy CM of Jharkhand between December 30, 2009 and May 29, 2010, Sushil Modi held this office in Bihar for over seven and a half years––November 24, 2005 and June 16, 2013.

Besides, thrusting Sushil Modi as CM candidate from above before the election would not have been acceptable to––among others––Bhumihars and Rajputs, two strong agrarian upper castes, having a good influence on the party. 

Apart from this, there is no dearth of leaders within and outside the saffron party, who still accuse SuMo of going too far in praising chief minister Nitish Kumar when he was the deputy CM. His statements that Nitish is a prime ministerial material is still being quoted by his detractors.

Like him the party’s president Amit Shah is a Jain-Baniya while Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, originally from Hissar in Haryana, an Agrawal.

The hold on politics of the upper castes’ landed gentries and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) is being challenged by upcoming leaders from trading communities. Save Amit Shah, the other four above mentioned leaders, do not hail from well off families of the business communities.

To avoid the over-presence of the trading and business communities, the BJP leadership may, as a part of strategy, not opt for Sushil Modi as the chief minister, even if the National Democratic Alliance wins the on-going Assembly election.

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