Now social engineering comes to JD(U)

After "social engineering" through government schemes, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is taking the same to his party. The JD(U), which will conclude its organisational elections by February end, has decided to reserve 60 per cent of its party posts for Mahadalits, EBCs, women and minorities. The rest 40 per cent positions will be filled up by OBCs and upper caste candidates.

The 60:40 formula will be implemented from the panchayat and block levels to the state level for selecting presidents, vice-presidents and general secretaries. Though there has been fair representation for all these sections in party posts, the JD(U) decided to give it a concrete shape to broaden its base.

There is no cap on party posts, which depend on strength and presence of the party in an area or region.

Leaving 40 per cent seats to general category is a deft move to keep OBC Yadavs and upper castes in good humour. The JD(U) appears to have taken serious note of upper caste resentment, particularly after the killing of disbanded Ranbir Sena chief Barmeshwar Mukhiya. The state government has already set up an upper caste commission to study the economic status of Rajputs, Bhumihars, Kayasthas and Brahmins, as well as unemployment among them.

The big crowds RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has been drawing at recent public meetings is also a factor.

Even though the JD(U) has an upper caste leader as a state president for the past six years, this is nothing more than tokenism.

Political pundits say Nitish, with his new formula, might well be preparing for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with or without the BJP. The BJP has been activating its cadre while the RSS has stepped up its activities in the state.

Santosh is a special correspondent based in Patna

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