A poster issued by a local Congress leader in Bihar has landed the party in trouble as its opponents have started accusing it of pandering to caste sentiments ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On Wednesday, Siddharth Kshatriya, a former secretary of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) put up a poster in Patna to thank Congress president Rahul Gandhi on appointing new office bearers in the party’s Bihar unit.
However, besides printing a group photograph of the new office bearers with Rahul Gandhi, the poster also prominently mentioned which caste/community they represent.
The intention of the poster and why the caste of each leader is mentioned in it can be gauged from the lines written on the top of the poster.
They read: “We congratulate party president Rahul Gandhi for ensuring that the newly appointed Bihar Congress working committee sets a benchmark of communal harmony [by giving representation to all castes/communities]”.
In the poster, the Congress leaders are placed in two rows. In the front row, Rahul Gandhi is seated at the centre and is flanked by Congress’s newly appointed president for its Bihar unit, Madan Mohan Jha, and three other state leaders. The remaining seven leaders are standing in the second row.
The new working committee has representatives of various castes and religions. This projection gains significance ahead of the general elections because caste equation has been a powerful factor that determines electoral results in Bihar.
Speaking about highlighting caste/communities of leaders in the poster, Congress MLC Prem Chand Mishra said it was “inappropriate” and “uncalled for”. “There is no need to come up with such posters. It’s inappropriate and unnecessary,” he said.
The ruling Janata Dal (United) said the poster “exposes the party’s real face”.
“Rahul Gandhi is touring temples and distributing certificates of being a Hindu. Whereas in Bihar, the party’s popularity has taken such a hit that it is now compelled to publicize castes of their leaders. This is the real face of the party which has been exposed,” JD(U) MLC Neeraj Kumar.