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Caste holds key to fate if BJP, alliance bigwigs

THE ASIAN AGE. | NAYEAR AZAD
Published : May 16, 2019, 3:43 am IST
Updated : May 16, 2019, 5:21 am IST

Patna Sahib and Patliputra are two Lok Sabha seats where caste is likely to play a key role in determining the success of candidates.

MP Shatrughan Sinha
 MP Shatrughan Sinha

Patna: With the caste factor playing a major role in Bihar politics, political parties have started shaping up caste management strategems to win seats in the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Patna Sahib and Patliputra are two Lok Sabha seats where caste is likely to play a key role in determining the success of candidates.

Patna Sahib has become a hot seat because Shatrughan Sinha, a film star turned politician, is pitted against Union minister and BJP candidate Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is contesting the Lok Sabha poll for the first time.

Shatrughan Sinha, a two-time MP from Patna Sahib, had quit the BJP recently due to differences with the party leadership. Patna Sahib, with over 25 per cent upper caste Kayastha voters, is a BJP stronghold. In 2014, Shatrughan Sinha had won the elections by defeating Congress nominee Kunal Singh, a veteran Bhojpuri film actor, by a record margin of 2,65,805 votes.

However, this time, political analysts see a strong possibility of vote splitting due to discontent within the BJP over ticket distribution.

While both the candidates, who belong to the Kayastha caste, are locked in a neck-and-neck fight, observers claim that BJP veteran leader and Rajya Sabha MP R.K. Sinha’s interest in the seat may disturb the caste calculations in Patna Sahib.

R.K. Sinha is a popular leader with massive support from Akhil Bharatiya Kayastha Mahasabha. In March BJP had to face embarrassing moments when supporters of Mr Prasad and R.K. Sinha exchanged blows at Patna airport.

Dismissing the speculation of the vote split in Patna Sahib, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand told this newspaper, “Everyone knows that despite public anger Shatrughan Sinha managed to retain his seat during the previous Lok Sabha elections due to a massive Modi wave in the country. Be sure that Mr Prasad is going to win the election this time witha  record margin and his rival Shatrughan Sinha will be politically silenced permanently”.

The Patliputra seat has also become a prestigious battle for both grand alliance and the NDA as RJD chief Lalu Yadav’s elder daughter Misa Bharti is contesting against Union minister and BJP nominee Ram Kripal Yadav.

As per an assessment, there are about 5 lakh Yadav voters in Patliputra. Upper caste Bhumihar, Rajputs and Brahmins are also in a sizeable number in the constituency.

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Tags: shatrughan sinha