The empowerment of OBCs came through the acceptance of the Mandal Commission report in 1990. Since then, the battle to keep implementing Mandal recommendations has been continued and led by the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav, who have stood guard against the forces of Kamandal, out to undo the caste reservation policies through their politics of Hindutva. The Bihar caste survey reflected that the backwards constitute the largest segment of the state’s population, at over 63%. If the caste census is held nationally, as has been demanded by Rahul Gandhi and the opposition’s INDIA bloc, evidently its result may not be very different from the Bihar survey. Nitish Kumar could be eying the post of the Prime Minister by firmly following the path of VP Singh and by effectively diverting the BJP’s Hindutva agenda. The caste census issue is likely to gain momentum outside Bihar and impact polls in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. Earlier, VP Singh’s unleashing of caste reservations dented the BJP’s pan-Hindu appeal and gave immense strength to caste-based regional parties, most of which were his allies. Nitish, too, has brought in the caste survey at a time when the BJP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has consolidated its vote base with its pan-Hindu plank of Hindutva. The Bihar survey has the potential to divide the BJP’s assiduously built Hindutva vote bank just like VP Singh’s Mandal did, thereby possibly turning into Mandal Part 2.
VARUN-RAHUL MEET: WILL THE ESTRANGED GANDHI JOIN CONGRESS?
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and BJP MP Varun Gandhi, who happen to be the first cousins, had a brief interaction at the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand. Both leaders visited the hilltop temple for offering their prayers. Varun Gandhi, who has been avoiding BJP meetings, seen together with his older cousin has triggered speculations in some quarters about his future political intentions. Varun appears to have shut down all options of rapprochement with the BJP and has taken on the mantle of a rebel, criticizing the policies of the central government. The buzz is that Varun has been approached by several people to join the Congress and talks are on. His mother Maneka Gandhi however does not seem willing for him to join the party of his late father. Will Varun join the Congress or embrace some other political party?
LOK SABHA POLLS 2024 TO BE BATTLE BETWEEN CASTE CENSUS AND HINDUTVA
The stage is all set for the Lok Sabha polls in 2024, with Bihar Assembly on November 9 unanimously passing a Bill to increase reservation for Backward Classes, Extremely Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes from the existing 50% to 65%. Together with the 10% Economically Backward Class (EWS) quota, the Bill will push reservation in Bihar to 75%, well past the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court. In Maharashtra, the demand has been raised increasingly by activist Manoj Jarange as that the Marathas be given Kunbi certificates so that they can get reservation under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. Evidently, the parliamentary elections will be fought on the issue of caste census, reservation, OBC and Hindutva. On one side, BJP had planned its poll strategy to ride the Hindutva wave in the wake of the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya in January 2024.BJP also wants to be wooing the women as a big constituency. On the other side, INDIA bloc leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Uddhav Thackeray, Akhilesh Yadav are all demanding nationwide caste census to better evaluate the situation of India’s Dalits, OBCs, poor and advocating OBC quota in women reservation. Meanwhile, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has managed to resurrect his diminishing graph within the Opposition’s INDIA bloc, and is looking to deprive the BJP and PM Modi of their OBC vote base. Nitish’s move to strengthen the ruling Mahagathbandhan’s social support base among Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) and Dalits is fulfilling a significant promise to these communities. INDIA bloc leaders are also working to take its message to the people at the grassroots level across the country.
SHIVAKUMAR SAYS JD(S), BJP LEADERS MAY SOON JOIN KARNATAKA CONGRESS
Karnataka’s deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar has created sensation in political circles by sharing that a significant number of BJP and JD(S) legislators and workers would join the Congress soon. While JD(S) legislators interacted at Hassan and remarkably took a loyalty pledge at the famous Hasanamba temple in Hassan. Eighteen of the total 19 JD(S) MLAs were present. On the other hand, D K Shivakumar interacted with high command leaders, including AICC General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal in New Delhi, and apprised them about political developments in Karnataka. Shivakumar said the high command had looked for suggestions on appointing new working presidents as the incumbents Satish Jarakiholi, Eshwar Khandre, and Ramalinga Reddy felt it a burden as they have to focus on their respective departments, and that a decision will be taken soon. He ruled out a possibility for a cabinet reshuffle and induction of former CM Jagadish Shettar into the cabinet but said that appointments to boards and corporations would be done soon.
RAIPUR CITY NORTH ASSEMBLY SEAT TO SEE DIFFICULT FOUR-SIDED FIGHT
The tough four-cornered contest is on the cards in Raipur City North assembly seat between Congress, BJP, the two-time Congress councillor Ajit Kukreja, who is now fighting as an independent candidate, and finally, the rebel BJP independent candidate, Savitri Jagat. This constituency falls in the Raipur district and centre district of Chattisgarh and it is an urban seat. As of 2023, the constituency of Raipur City North comprises a total of 1,82,462 voters, including 92,123 male voters and 90,254 female voters. The assembly constituency has 202 booths. Congress has allocated ticket to the sitting MLA Kuldeep Juneja and BJP has allocated ticket to the Purandar Mishra. The number of Sindhi voters are 25000, while Sikhs are 25000, Muslim voters are 10000 and Oriya voters are 20,000 in the constituency. In the 2018 Raipur city North assembly elections, Kuldeep Juneja of Congress won the election by defeating Shri Chand Sundrani by securing a total of 59,843 votes. Voting will take place on November 17 and the results will be declared on December 3. (IPA Service)