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BJP rejigs Bihar caste calculus as two new faces find place in Modi govt

While Nityananad Rai and Giriraj Singh, two veteran BJP leaders from Bihar, again found a place in the Union Council of Ministers on Sunday, two new faces from the state, Raj Bhushan Nishad and Satish Chandra Dubey, made the cut.

The BJP, however, bypassed its core voter base of Vaishyas (Baniyas) while accommodating Nishad who is from the Mallah community (categorised as an Extremely Backward Class) and Dubey who is Brahmin. Rajputs and Kayasthas have also not found a place in the Union Council of Ministers unlike in 2019 when R K Singh, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Radha Mohan Singh (all Rajputs) and Ravi Shankar Prasad (Kayastha) were inducted.

The three-time MP is an upper caste Bhumihar leader who served as a minister in the Nitish Kumar government from 2005 to 2013. Known to be an ardent Modi supporter, the 71-year-old rose in politics on a hardcore Hindutva line. Singh previously served as Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj minister and this time edged out another Bhumihar leader — newly elected Nawada MP Vivek Thakur — for the ministerial berth.

In the recently concluded polls, Singh defeated CPI(M)’s Abdhesh Kumar Roy by more than 81,000 votes from Begusarai and was brought back to the Council of Ministers despite the BJP’s Bihar ally JD(U) nominating Rajiv Ranjan Singh, also a Bhumihar.

Rai (58), now a third-time MP from Ujiarpur, also took oath on Sunday. He has previously served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs and is seen as close to Union Minister Amit Shah who had made it clear that Rai would be given a “bigger role”.

Rai’s chances were boosted after BJP’s Ram Kripal Yadav lost to RJD’s Misa Bharti and he won from Ujiyarpur, defeating his nearest rival Alok Kumar Mehta of the RJD by more than 60,000

Read more on indianexpress.com