New Delhi: Amid a controversy over ally Lalu Prasad's alleged casteist remarks, JD(U) Wednesday sought to do a delicate balancing act, asserting that inclusive development with social justice is the poll plank of grand alliance led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar polls.
"Caste is a reality. There are backward castes and there are forward castes. But I do not accept that caste is everything. Development is a much bigger issue. We want to go to the people on the basis of the work that we had done in Bihar," Bihar JD(U) President Bashishtha Narain Singh told reporters here.
When repeatedly asked about the RJD chief's statement that Bihar elections was a direct fight between "the backward castes and forward castes" and his call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind their alliance to defeat BJP-led NDA, Singh chose to stress that the leader of the alliance is Nitish Kumar.
"The leadership is of Nitish Kumar. Nitish's leadership means development and his views regarding this matter. If our government comes to power, it will run on the basis of a common programme in the same manner as has happened during the ten years rule of Kumar so far. Nitish had come to power with support of diverse sections on the issues of governance and the rule of law.
"Different parties come together during elections. Some of them have a caste base. But elections in Bihar will happen on the issue of development. Development is much more important than caste in Bihar. I am convinced that those who talk other things will also have to take up the issue of development," Singh said replying to a volley of questions.
Party MP Pawan Verma said that development is "first and last issue" of Nitish Kumar but "no one can forget social justice" in Bihar since the state has a huge population of "deprived" sections.
The remarks by the JD(U) leaders reflect a realization in the party that too much focus on caste issues can damage the alliance's prospects.
Many in party believe that the state has gone ahead of the era of caste politics and it has limted appeal among the youngsters though the plank of social justice cannot be abandoned keeping in mind the social realities in the state.
Launching his campaign from Raghopur on Sunday, the RJD supremo had described the assembly elections as a direct fight between "the backward castes and forward castes" and gave a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the secular alliance to defeat BJP-led NDA.
"You Yaduvanshis (Yadav castemen), backwards and minorities must unite and rally behind us to keep the BJP-led NDA at bay and ensure that the secular alliance comes to power in Bihar," he had said.