Friday, June 14
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Is caste politics still a thing in 21st-century Bihar?

Our country got freedom in the year 1947, and from that point forward, India has seen an immense amount of advancement in each field. Since then, the Indian public has embraced a new way of life, and old practices have been abandoned. All things considered, there are a few areas in India where caste discrimination is going on. Though Indian culture is moving towards modernization, there are still a few fields where caste plays an exceptionally huge part. EG: Marriage: even today, individuals lean toward relationships inside their caste. Caste is not simply restricted to marriage; it plays an exceptionally huge part in Politics in India too, broadly known as “Caste politics”. The straightforward meaning of the term caste politics is: One’s caste can control access to political power, land, and police or judicial assistance. In this blog, we are discussing caste politics in Bihar.

Caste Politics in India

Caste Politics in Bihar

Bihar, a state situated in the eastern part of India, has been a critical focus of governmental issues since its beginning. Known for its lively political scene and complex elements, Bihar hosted different political get-togethers and pioneers competing for power and impact. Here is a brief overview of the political situation in Bihar.

CM Nitish Kumar
CM of Bihar Nitish Kumar

Perhaps the most persuasive ideological group in Bihar is the Janata Dal (joined together), or JDU, which has been a predominant power in the state for quite a long time. Driven by Nitish Kumar, the JD(U) played a crucial role in shaping Bihar’s governmental issues. Nitish Kumar has served various terms as the Chief Minister of Bihar, emphasizing development and administration as key needs.

RJD leader Laloo Prasand and Tejashwi Yadav
Bihar leaders Laloo Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav

One more influential party in Bihar is the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), led by Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family. The RJD holds critical support among the backward castes and has had serious areas of strength in Bihar’s governmental issues. However, the party faced a setback when Lalu Prasad Yadav was sentenced in corruption cases, leading to a shift in power dynamics.

BJP Bihar Election 2020
BJP leader in 2020 Election

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has likewise made significant advances in Bihar’s governmental issues lately. Through its union with the JDU, the BJP has had the option to frame a political party in the state. The party has focused on its development agenda and has gotten help from various sections of society.

Congress Party
Congress Party

The Congress party, generally a central part of Indian governmental issues, has attempted to keep areas of strength in Bihar. While it has formed coalitions with local parties, its impact has been reduced over the long run.

Bihar’s governmental issues are described by caste-based conditions, with various political party groups taking care of specific castes to get their support. The dominant castes in Bihar include the Yadavs, Kurmis, Bhumihars, and Dalits, among others. Parties frequently form alliances based on caste calculations to maximize their chances of electoral success.

Elections in Bihar are closely contested and frequently set apart by serious rivalries between political parties. The state has seen continuous political realignments and alliance governments. The result of decisions in Bihar affects national politics as well, taking into account its significant number of seats in the Indian Parliament. In conclusion, politics in Bihar is a dynamic and consistently advancing landscape, shaped by regional gatherings, caste-based equations, and the quest for development. The JD(U), RJD, BJP, and Congress have been vital participants in the state’s politics, with alliances and realignments playing an urgent role in government development. Bihar’s political situation keeps on developing, reflecting the changes and concerns of its diverse population.

The history behind Caste Politics in Bihar

Caste Politics in Bihar
Election

Caste politics is only possible because of caste discrimination. The early development of Indian culture was exceptionally unexpected. The society was partitioned into four distinct groups: the Brahmins (priest people), the Kshatriyas (warriors and administrators), the Vaishyas (craftsmen), and the Shudras (laboring classes). The upper caste individuals get a wide range of opportunities and fair treatment; they were the ones who held power in society. They had command over society and played an extremely significant role in state politics.

The lower caste individuals confronted a great deal of discrimination; they were not permitted to carry on life like high-class people, and if they did, they had to go through punishment. This practice was happening over an extremely significant period of time. During the freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi raised this issue and requested that we come together to fight against the British.

After freedom, in Bihar, over a significant stretch of time, privileged individuals controlled state politics and higher governmental positions. There were few compared to lower or middle caste individuals, yet, because of their social power, they were a predominant gathering in Bihar society. During that time, the unemployment rate was exceptionally high in Bihar. Because of joblessness and social discrimination, lower-ranking individuals dealt with a tonne of issues. Caste-based violence in Bihar added fuel to their resentment. Over a period of time, they realized only power could bring peace to them.

The political history of Bihar in the post-Independence period can be divided into three distinctive phases. In the first phase (1947-1967) Congress party headed by upper caste leaders dominated the state. The second phase (1967-1990) can be linked to the gradual decline of Congress as well as of the upper castes and the slow but steadily emerging influence of the middle castes in the political arena. The third phase (1990 onwards) is marked by a complete reversal of the first phase that is, the marginalization of the Congress party and the upper castes in Bihar politics.

Table of Caste Composition in Bihar

s.noCastePorpotion in the Population in Bihar
1Brahmin                        5
2Bhumihar                        4
3Rajput                        5
4Other upper castes                        1
5Yadav                        15
6Kurmi and Korei                        11
7Other’s OBC                        24
8Dalit (census)                        16
9Muslim (census)                        17
Source: Estimates are based on various Post Poll Surveys conducted by CSDS in Bihar

If we go through the caste profile of the legislative assembly of Bihar from 1967 to 2010, we will find out that the representation of the OBC before 1990 was very minimal; it was dominated by the upper caste only. In 1990, we saw the complete breakdown of the Congress system, which resulted in the rise of OBCs in Bihar politics. Post

In the 1990s, there was a significant increase in the share of OBCs in the legislative assembly. Among the OBCs, it was the Yadavs who continued to dominate the assembly. We can also see the reverse trend in the representation of Yadav; in 2010, 16% of the members of the assembly were Yadav as compared to 20% in 2000.

In the 2010 assembly election, both BJP and JD (U) saw an increase in their OBC vote share. In 2013, the JD (U) broke its alliance with the BJP after the party promoted Narendra Modi to lead its election campaign. The two parties contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election independently and it did not have any negative effect on support for the BJP among OBCs. In fact in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP got the highest OBC vote share among all the parties.

Yadavs who can be considered to be upper OBCs have been loyal supporters of Lalu Prasad Yadav. The consolidation of Yadav support for the RJD is much greater than the support of other caste groups for other parties. RJD by forming an alliance with the Congress tried to build a strong social coalition of Muslims and Yadavs. This alliance was able to present itself as a possible alternative that could challenge the BJP in Bihar

The JD (U) has a strong support base amongst the Kurmis and the Koeris. Nitish Kumar himself belongs to the Kurmi community which is numerically not very strong as compared to Yadavs. There has been a lot of change in the politics of Bihar over time, but one thing is still the same: taking votes in the name of caste.

The Impact of Caste on Bihar Politics

Throughout some undefined time frame, position began assuming a major part in the political field and furthermore impacted other government-run foundations. The place and location of caste also played a crucial part. In the region where the number of inhabitants in lower caste is high, the possibilities of its caste member acquiring political power are high. Once more, Gender also assumes a huge part in the power dynamic of caste politics. Women’s portrayal inside the political framework appeared to likewise be attached to their caste system. Lower, more conservative castes have less female support in governmental issues than upper, more socially liberal castes. This has influenced a lopsidedly enormous number of upper-standing ladies to possess political office when contrasted with their lower-caste partners. The order of standing and its job in legislative issues and admittance to power and assets have made a general public supporter client connections along caste lines. This at last prompted the act of vote banking, where citizens back just up-and-comers that are in their rank or authorities from whom they hope to get an advantage of some sort.

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