Caste will not be a factor in Bihar polls: Nitish

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar feels that caste will no more be a factor in the upcoming Assembly elections and that it will be relegated to the background for the first time.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2010, 15:02 PM IST

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
feels that caste will no more be a factor in the upcoming
Assembly elections and that it will be relegated to the
background for the first time.

"Things are beginning to change in Bihar and I think the
caste factor will be relegated to the back seat for the first
time in the coming Assembly polls in the state," Kumar wrote
on his blog recently.

"The polls this time would witness the majority of the
people rising above narrow caste considerations to vote for
development-centric politics," he asserted.

Bihar goes to poll in unusually long six phases from
October 21 to November 20 for its 243 Assembly seats in which
an estimated 5.50 crore electorate would exercise their
franchise.

Kumar suggested surveying agencies being hired by
political parties should not overlook this fact when they set
out to compile data for their pre-poll assessment prior to the
elections.

"In fact, this trend was already discernible during the
parliamentary elections last year when the National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) won 32 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in
Bihar," he pointed out saying that the results have indicated
that development-oriented politics has replaced caste factor.

For the first time majority of the people had exercised
their voting rights not on the basis of the caste of a
candidate but on the development work initiated by the state
government, he said.

Kumar further wrote on his blog that the change in the
profile of women voters would be another important parameter
in Bihar this year.

"In previous polls, women did not have any separate
identity as voters and it was generally believed that women
would vote for the same candidate that their male relatives
would ask them to. They had remained parts of the caste system
over the years," he noted.

But now, there is a growing sense of awareness among
women because of several initiatives taken for their uplift
and empowerment in Bihar, he said while highlighting the steps
taken by his government for women education and 50 per cent
reservation in the Panchayati Raj institutions.

The young voters would also be crucial, Kumar said,
adding the Gen-X would also not be swayed on the caste lines.

PTI