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'Bihar needs someone who is above caste politics'

By Newsdesk
Last updated on: February 18, 2005 18:20 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox: correspondents Salil Kumar, who toured Bihar on the eve of the assembly election, and Ehtasham Khan, who was in Jharkhand during the two phases of the three-phase exercise in the state, answer readers' queries.

Parshuram, Mumbai

Lalu, Paswan, Nitish Kumar. Are these good leaders or not for Bihar's future?

Salil Kumar: I personally don't think there is any leader from the current crop who can pull out Bihar from the mess it is in.

All said and done Lalu has done something that no one has been able to. He has given the backward castes and dalits some kind of political empowerment. But on the other hand he has been incapable of governance, and the result we all know.

Now Bihar needs to go beyond Lalu. It needs someone who is above caste politics; someone all Biharis can look up to; someone who can bring the society together. And that is a tough task. It is highly unlikely if Nitish or Paswan can do that. In fact, I would say they cannot.

Manish Raj, Bhiwadi

Will the BJP, JD-U and LJP come together to form a government?

Salil Kumar: Though it is foolish to predict what will happen in Indian politics, I would say no. Paswan broke away from the NDA after the Gujarat riots and since then hasn't stopped badmouthing the BJP-led alliance and saying how secular he is.

In this election he is desperately trying to woo the Muslims away from the RJD by telling them that his LJP can provide them a better alternative.

Now consider this: if he joins the RJD in 15 days after the election results, what message will he be sending to his fledging constituency?

No, I don't think the three parties will team up.

Aravind, Pune

Who is going to win in Jharkhand election?

Ehtasham Khan: Just after the first phase of election in 24 constituencies on February 3, the BJP leader in charge of party affairs in Jharkhand said in a public rally that astrologers have predicted that the BJP-led NDA will form the next government in the tribal-dominated state.

For those who don't believe astrologers, poll observers say there may be a hung assembly.

Exit polls by leading television channels said the BJP is expected to gain in the first phase. This is, however, no good news for the party as these constituencies have traditionally been its stronghold.

In the just-concluded second phase and the third phase to be held on February 23, it is expected that the Congress and Shibu Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha will have an edge over the ruling BJP.

However, the differences within the Congress-JMM alliance may help the BJP. Despite a pre-poll alliance, the Congress and the JMM are fighting each other in four constituencies.

Parties that do not have a major presence in Jharkhand, like Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Left parties, will also harm the Congress alliance's chances.

Senior JMM leader Stephen Marandi left the party just before the elections accusing Soren of nepotism. He is contesting as an independent from Dumka against the JMM candidate, who happens to be Soren's son.

Marandi is said to enjoy the support of the adivasis and Christians, who are the traditional vote banks of the JMM. His rebellion may cost the party dear.

The votes of Muslims, who constitute about 12 percent of the electorate, will get divided among several parties.

All these factors will help the ruling BJP despite the high anti-incumbency factor.

The election commission will declare the result on February 27.

Who will become chief minister of Jharkhand?

Ehtasham Khan: The ruling BJP has an alliance with the JD (U). It is likely that a BJP candidate will become the chief minister if the party returns to power. Party president Lal Kishenchand Advani has announced two names - Koderma member of Lok Sabha and former Jharkhand chief minister Babu Lal Marandi and current Chief Minister Arjun Munda - as chief ministerial candidates.

Marandi and Munda are said to have many differences and cannot work together.

The Congress has not announced a chief ministerial candidate, but the contenders are Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay and state party president Sushila Kerketta. Kerketta is also a tribal, which might help her chances.

JMM chief Shibu Soren will also be a claimant to the chair. He has announced that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has assured him of her party's support. The Congress, however, is silent over the issue. The party has a policy that the chief minister will be decided only after the results are declared.


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