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Bihar elections: Opposition alliance to soon announce Tejashwi Yadav as its CM candidate


NEW DELHI: The opposition alliance in Bihar will soon announce Tejashwi Yadav as its candidate for chief minister and his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party may give tickets to more upper-caste members this time, in an attempt to expand on its vote base beyond the traditional Muslim-Yadav communities, party insiders said.

The announcement naming the former deputy CM as the CM candidate will come along with that on the distribution of seats by the RJD-Congress alliance, they told ET, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“The RJD has already said Tejashwi will be the CM face. Ours is the biggest party and all our allies will agree on the same. The RJD wants to contest over 150 seats and will have a high win strike rate,” an RJD leader said.

RJD state president Jagdanand Singh is holding talks with the RLSP, VIP and Left parties as well, and they too are expected to join the alliance.

The party is contemplating giving tickets to more upper-caste candidates after it earlier made Singh, an upper-caste leader, its state chief. In 2015, the RJD gave just two tickets to the Rajputs out of the 101 seats it contested. It did not have any candidates from the Brahmin or Bhumiar community at the time. The RJD’s list then was dominated by 48 Yadavs and 16 Muslims — 42 and 12 of them won. The RJD had objected to the 10% reservation announced by the Centre in 2019 for the economically weaker sections of the upper castes. In the Lok Sabha polls that followed, it faced a wipe-out.

The party however is keen to impress upon this time that it is representative of all, by considering upper-caste candidates for tickets and projecting unemployment as a “pan-state issue impacting all sections of the society”. The 15% upper-caste voters have been firmly with the BJP in Bihar, where the RJD’s strength has traditionally been the 14% Yadavs and 16% Muslims.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (U) has brought the extremely backward community vote bank to the table in the NDA alliance, making it a formidable caste coalition. The Congress, meanwhile, has failed to play a similar role in the opposition alliance in bringing upper-caste votes.

“The opposition alliance needs a third force besides the Muslim-Yadav combine to bring it to power,” an RJD leader said, citing the example of Mayawati in UP who rallied Brahmin voters along with her Dalit-Muslim vote base in 2007 to come to power but was unable to repeat that since, as upper-caste voters soon deserted her. Same has been the case with the RJD, which has been out of power in Bihar since 2005, except for a 20-month stint with Nitish Kumar’s JDU after the 2015 polls.

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