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As polling day approaches, contest panning out between upper and lower castes in Bihar

Such a vote polarisation, deliberately effected through statements of the leaders of the two groupings, seems to be turning into an advantageous situation for the Mahagathbandhan.

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With just two days remaining for voting in the first phase of the Assembly polls, the contest is panning out between the backward and forward castes in Bihar for the opposition Mahagathbandhan and the ruling NDA respectively.

Such a vote polarisation, deliberately effected through statements of the leaders of the two groupings, seems to be turning into an advantageous situation for the Mahagathbandhan.

During a rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Sasaram on October 23, he said that 10 per cent reservation will be given to the upper castes belonging to the economically weaker section.

Tejashwi Yadav, the CM face of the Mahagathbandhan, during a rally in Sasaram district on Monday said that poor people fearlessly walked in front of Babu Sahab (Rajput) and other upper caste people of Bihar when his father Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Chief Minister.

Such statements are important in the context of the caste equations in Bihar. There are four castes — Brahmin, Rajput, Bhumihar and Kayastha — that are considered as upper castes in Bihar.

As per the Election Commission of India (ECI), Bihar had a total of 7,21,40945 voters till January 2020 including 3,80,88338 males, 3,42,50262 females and 2339 transgenders.

Among them, only 19 per cent voters are from the upper castes, while 16 per cent are Dalits, 17 per cent are Muslims, 16 per cent Yadav and the remaining 38 per cent belonging to OBCs.

In Bihar, traditionally the upper castes were land owners who employed poor people from the the Dalit and OBC communities before 1990. The situation changed to a large extent after Lalu Prasad came to power in 1990. He belongs to the OBC segment and advocated social equality and justice for Dalits and OBCs.

The think tank of the RJD knew that if Tejashwi Yadav used his father’s image in the 2020 Bihar assembly election to polarise voters between lower and upper castes, it will be a gain for the Mahagathbandhan.

The Mahagathbandhan, say analysts, already seems to find favour with Muslims and Yadavs (the MY factor). If the Dalits go with the Mahagathbandhan, it is an added advantage. Besides, it also has some votes from the other OBC castes.

The alliance partners of the Mahagathbandhan by and large represent the OBCs and Dalits in Bihar. The OBCs and Muslims are known for being traditional voters of the Congress. The Left parties have also always been vocal for Dalits and the labourer community in Bihar.

Besides, Tejashwi Yadav’s populist promise to provide 10 lakh government jobs is also turning out to be handy in enticing poor people largely from the Dalit, Muslim, and OBC communities.

On the other hand, the BJP is seen as a party favoured by upper caste voters.

The BJP is also known for polarising voters between Hindus and Muslims over the years. However, it does not seem to be working in the Assembly election despite its leaders like Giriraj Singh bringing Jinnah into this election and Minister Of State for Home Nityanand Rai saying that Kashmiri militants would take shelter in Bihar if the Mahagathbandhan came to power.

The Nitish Kumar led ruling JD-U is also seen to have failed to convince the state’s Dalits and Muslims. Kumar has a strong hold in the Koiri and Kurmi communities which are around 24 per cent but that may not be good enough to get an edge in the elections.

Saroj Yadav, a political analyst based in Patna said: “The situation is extremely tough for the JD-U and the BJP as they are not making any effort to attract Dalits and Muslims. The crowds in the rallies of Tejashwi Yadav are much bigger than the rallies of NDA leaders and it gives a clear message to political parties about what the voters are thinking this time.”

“The separation of Chirag Paswan from the NDA is also going against it. Late Ram Vilas Paswan was a well-known leader of Dalits in Bihar. His party LJP works on the same lines and the voters of the party (mainly Dalits) may go away from the NDA,” he said.

Election

Recount of presidential votes in Wisconsin ends, reaffirms Biden’s win

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Joe Biden

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin has been reaffirmed after two of the state’s largest counties completed the recount of the ballots cast in the November 3 presidential election, with just a little change in the tally.

The Democratic former Vice President’s lead over incumbent President Donald Trump in the key swing state grew by 87 votes, after the latter gained 45 votes in the Dane County recount and Biden got a 132-vote net gain in the Milwaukee county recount, Xinhua news agency reported.

The statewide tally showed Biden won Wisconsin by over 20,000 votes.

The Trump campaign has, as required by state law, paid $3 million for the recount, only to see his defeat more apparent.

A day before the recount results, Trump had tweeted on Saturday that he would file a lawsuit “Monday or Tuesday” to continue challenging the results.

“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally,” he said.

“We have found many illegal votes.”

Wisconsin is set to certify the results on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative voter group, has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, asking the state’s Supreme Court to prevent the certification.

But Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ attorneys filed a response to the lawsuit on November 27, calling the group’s effort a “brazen attack on democracy itself” and asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss it.

The Democratic Governor said the lawsuit was a “mishmash of legal distortions” that attempted to disenfranchise millions of Wisconsin residents.

He said failing to certify the election results would alter other election results across the state, throwing the government into chaos.

Trump also suffered consecutive legal defeats in Pennsylvania, as the state’s Supreme Court on Saturday ruled against a Republican-filed case alleging voting irregularities, after a federal appeals court denied his re-election campaign’s effort to appeal its own case that was rejected by a lower court.

Trump told Fox News on Sunday that he “would like to file one nice big beautiful lawsuit” in the US Supreme Court, complaining that “it’s hard to get into the Supreme Court”.

He said the high court needs to be “willing to make a real big decision”, adding he’s got “the best Supreme Court advocates, lawyers that want to argue the case if it gets there”.

Last week, US District Judge Matthew Brann rejected the Trump campaign’s lawsuit accusing Pennsylvania of allowing voters to fix errors in the mail-in ballots and seeking to prevent the state from certifying the results.

The judge also refused the campaign to file an amended complaint.

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Around 52% Polling recorded in 1st phase of DDC Polls in Jammu and Kashmir

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

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Election

Jammu: State Election Commissioner (SEC) K.K. Sharma said on Saturday that the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir has been conducted successfully with a voter turnout of 51.76%.

The polling was by and large peaceful in the 43 constituencies of DDC that went to the polls on Saturday in which 3,62,766 voters, including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females, out of 7,00,842 voters, exercised their franchise to choose their representatives in their respective councils, the SEC said in a press conference.

Sharma said that Reasi district recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent, followed by Rajouri (70.52 per cent), Poonch (68.69 per cent), Samba (68.61 per cent), Doda (64.49 per cent), Kathua (62.82 per cent), Jammu (61.49 per cent), Ramban (64.21 per cent), Udhampur (57.13 per cent) and Kishtwar (55.16 per cent) — all in Jammu division.

In the Kashmir division, Budgam district recorded the highest polling at 56.96 per cent, followed by Kupwara (50.74 per cent), Ganderbal (48.62 per cent), Bandipora (43.57 per cent), Anantnag 43.32 (per cent), Shopian (42.58 per cent), Kulgam (34.35 per cent), Srinagar (33.76 per cent) and Baramulla (32.51 per cent).

The SEC further said that large number of people came out to cast their votes in the first phase of DDC polls and panch/sarpanch bypolls. Long queues could be seen despite severe cold conditions in the Kashmir division and the hilly areas of the Jammu division, Sharma added.

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

He also appreciated all the stakeholders for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personnel were deployed at all the polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.

The SEC further informed that arrangements for the second phase of polling — to be held in 43 constituencies, 25 in Kashmir division and 18 in Jammu division — have been put in place.

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Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’

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Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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