How BJP Has Fine-Tuned Bihar Caste Equations By Giving 8 Ministerial Berths In Modi Govt 3.0 - News18 (2024)

The BJP-led NDA government has inducted some political leaders from Bihar in the Union Council of Ministers, rejigging the caste calculus of the state a year ahead of the assembly elections.

The NDA has given special priority to the leaders who have come from the Most Backward Castes (MBC) as well as Scheduled Castes (SC) into the Union ministry.

Based on the caste-combination, the NDA has inducted two Bhumihar faces, two SC leaders, two from the MBCs, one leader from OBCs and one from Brahmin caste.

Raj Bhushand Chaudhary Nishad, an MP from Muzaffarpur, is a new face from the MBCs inducted into the Cabinet. Satish Chandra Dubey, who is a Brahmin, has also found a place in the Cabinet. NDA’s ally JD(U) has selected former chief minister and Bihar’s most prominent MBC face Kapoor Thakur’s son Ramnath Thakur, who is a Rajya Sabha member, and Rajiv Ranjan Singh ‘Lalan’.

The induction of Nityanand Rai and Giriraj Singh into the Cabinet was also expected.

Vaishyas (Baniyas), Rajputs and Kayasthas, however, have not found a place in the Union Council of Ministers this time unlike 2019.

Both BJP and JD(U) won 12 seats each in the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar.

Smaller allies Chirag Paswan, whose Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) won five seats, and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, the lone MP of Hindustani Awam Morcha, have also got cabinet berths.

Who Are Bihar’s 8 Ministers?

Jitan Ram Manjhi: The founder of Hindustani Awam Morcha, Manjhi, has been a force to reckon with in Bihar. Since 2014, he has fought from the Gaya Lok Sabha seat, facing one defeat after another, but won this time. Manjhi is an MLA from Imamganj in Gaya district. The 80-year-old leader from the Musahar community is a well-known Mahadalit. He served as chief minister for about 10 months between 2014 and 2015 after Nitish Kumar resigned from the post for the JD(U)’s poor performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. His son, Santosh Kumar Suman, is a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet. His induction into the Union cabinet is crucial for the NDA in the Bihar assembly polls in 2025.

Chirag Paswan: The LJP (Ram Vilas) chief represents the Hajipur Lok Sabha constituency and has secured a ministerial position in the Union Cabinet. The seat was represented by his father, Ram Vilas, who founded the LJP in 2000. The Dalit leader played a crucial role in forming an alliance with the BJP in 2014, convincing his father to rekindle the partnership. Chirag’s efforts gave a boost to the LJP, which won six seats in 2014 from zero in 2009. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the party won the six seats it contested in an alliance with the JD(U) and the BJP.

Raj Bhushan Choudhary Nishad: The BJP’s decision to induct Choudhary into the Council of Ministers is to counter regional force Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) which is headed by Mukesh Shani. Choudhary had contested against BJP’s nominee Ajay Nishad in 2019 from VIP. He joined the BJP later and got the ticket to contest from Muzaffarpur in this year’s election. The VIP, which is in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), is trying to expand its support base among Mallah (fisherman) community of Bihar. But the RJD struck the alliance to go beyond the Muslim-Yadav vote bank.

Satish Chandra Dubey: An upper-caste leader, Dubey is considered an ardent support of the BJP. He rose to prominence after he took up the cause of sugarcane farmers. He represented the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha constituency from 2014-2019. After not receiving a ticket in 2019 due to seat-sharing issues with the JD(U), the BJP leadership sent him to the Rajya Sabha. Before becoming an MP, Dubey has also been a legislator from Chanpatia and Narkatiaganj. His induction could garner Brahmin votes from the Champaran region and neighboring Uttar Pradesh for the BJP.

Rajiv Ranjan ‘Lalan’ Singh: JD(U)’s four-time MP Singh is the trusted lieutenant of Nitish Kumar. The leader from the Bhumihar caste won from Munger Lok Sabha constituency, defeating RJD’s Kumari Anita. He served as a state minister in Kumar’s cabinet, and founded the Samta Party. He stepped down as JD(U) president in December 2023 after differences with Nitish over his proximity to RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

Ram Nath Thakur: The son of socialist icon and Bharat Ratna recipient Kapoori Thakur from the EBC category has previously served as a member of the Bihar Legislative Council and a minister under Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. He comes from the ‘Nai’ (barber) community that forms around 1.60% of the Bihar population. It falls under the EBC category. Conferring Bharat Ratna to Kapoor just before the 2024 Lok Sabha election was a strong political statement, believed experts. Thakur is credited for carrying forward the movement initiated by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayana and Jan Nayak Kapoori Thakur for empowering the underprivileged.

Giriraj Singh: A veteran BJP leader, who has sparked controversy through his statements in the past, represent Begusarai. An upper caste Bhumihar, Singh is the face of Hindutva in Bihar. In 2014, Singh made his grand entry into the Lok Sabha by winning the Nawada seat but in 2019 he was uprooted from there and was handed over a ticket from Begusarai. Singh previously served as Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj minister and this time edged out another Bhumihar leader — newly elected Nawada MP Vivek Thakur — for the ministerial berth. Singh made waves in the Bihar government, serving as Co-Operative Minister from 2005 to 2010 and as Animal Husbandry Minister from 2010 to 2013.

Nityanand Rai: The BJP’s Yadav face in the Union Cabinet, Rai is Amit Shah’s ‘jigree dost’ (close friend). The BJP promoted him as a Yadav face in Bihar in a bid to counter RJD’s traditional Yadav vote base and had given him responsibility as state president of the party in 2016. He won from the Ujiarpur Lok Sabha constituency, defeating Alok Kumar Mehta of RJD. He served as Union Minister of State for Home in Modi’s second term. Son of a farmer, Rai has been associated with the Sangh Parivar since the early 1980s, when he joined the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) as a student activist. Rai hails from north Bihar’s Vashali, a Yadav stronghold that elected Lalu’s sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap Yadav in 2015 from Raghopur and Mahua assembly seats, respectively.

How BJP Has Fine-Tuned Bihar Caste Equations By Giving 8 Ministerial Berths In Modi Govt 3.0 - News18 (2024)

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