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11 seats for Mukesh ‘Mallah’ Sahani, why BJP is treating him as VIP

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary
| New Delhi |

October 19, 2020 5:32:02 am


Deputy CM Sushil Modi with CM Nitish Kumar, at considered one of their 4 joint rallies on Sunday. Modi had underlined BJP’s “respect” for EBCs whereas asserting seat cope with the VIP. PTI

In the approaching Bihar polls, the place the BJP is seen as positioning itself to win extra seats than its ally the JD(U), the social gathering has left as many as 11 seats for the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). This has left the BJP with 110 seats, towards the JD(U)’s 115. The cause for the BJP’s lodging of the political greenhorn is the votes the VIP instructions.

Led by Bollywood set decorator from Darbhanga Mukesh Sahani, the VIP got here up solely two years in the past, despite the fact that Sahani has been lively since 2013. Championing the reason for the Nishad (Mallah) caste bouquet — Sahani formally calls himself “Son of Mallah” — the social gathering claims appreciable affect among the many boatmen and fishermen communities populating the riverine belts of North Bihar.

There is not any latest official information to estimate the energy of Nishad votes in Bihar. The group has a number of subcastes and the VIP has typically claimed a command over virtually 10% of the votes. Estimates of varied political events, nonetheless, are 6-7%.

Still, in a intently fought election, the consolidation of such votes can considerably impression elections in sure seats. Nishad votes are mentioned to be influential in Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, Madhubani, Khagaria, Vaishali and different North Bihar districts. In this belt, the vote share of Nishads is alleged to be over 6%.

Nishad voters have historically aligned with social justice events within the post-JP Movement period. Former Union minister Captain Jai Narayan Prasad Nishad, who handed away in 2018, represented the Muzaffarpur constituency a number of occasions on RJD and JD(U) tickets earlier than switching to the BJP. His son Ajay Nishad fought and gained on a BJP ticket from the constituency within the 2019 polls.

Still, giving 11 seats to a celebration that had misplaced miserably within the 2019 polls as a part of the Grand Alliance — the VIP had then contested Muzaffarpur, Khagaria and Madhubani — led by the RJD could seem ceding an excessive amount of floor. Sahani had himself misplaced to the LJP’s Mehboob Ali Kaisar by a margin of two.5 lakh votes from Khagaria. Despite the RJD’s vote financial institution behind him, Sahani had acquired solely 27% of the votes — virtually the identical because the RJD when it fought by itself in 2014.

The 11 seats are additionally testomony to Sahani’s abilities as a negotiator, even whereas leaping ship to ship. Before the 2014 polls, he had rallied the help of Nishads behind Narendra Modi. However, after the BJP’s landslide victory, he had opened channels with Nitish, solely to turn into the BJP’s “star campaigner” simply earlier than the 2015 Assembly elections. When the BJP misplaced the polls, Sahani had drifted once more and, in 2019, a 12 months after floating his personal social gathering, joined fingers with the RJD. With his demand for 30 seats within the Assembly elections rejected by the RJD, he has discovered his manner again to the BJP.

“We are looking at the VIP as a significant partner. It has considerable influence not just among Mallahs but also among some other extremely backward classes. In the rural belts of North Bihar, Mallahs are seen as an assertive caste. Politically unrepresented communities may associate themselves with a dynamic Mallah leader,” mentioned a supply near the BJP’s Bihar in-charge Devendra Fadnavis.

Sources say the BJP’s indulgence of the VIP additionally has to do with sending a political message and increasing its social base in Bihar. The BJP has historically been recognized as an higher caste social gathering within the state. Under Amit Shah, the social gathering has been attempting to develop its social base by sharing political house with EBCs. It additionally cuts into Nitish’s rigorously constituted vote financial institution of a number of non-Yadav backward lessons and his personal picture of the undisputed chief of disparate EBCs, which has saved him in energy for 3 phrases.

At the press convention asserting the seat sharing cope with the VIP, senior BJP chief Sushil Modi underlined this: “The BJP has always respected people from Extremely Backward Classes… It was the NDA government that came up with 20% reservation for EBCs in panchayat polls and today over 1,600 mukhias in Bihar are from these classes.”

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