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Divide and rule?: the battle for Bihar has split the state on communal lines

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:49 IST

A report by The Indian Express ahead of the Bihar assembly polls claims that there has been a three-fold rise in communal incidents after the BJP and JD(U) - the ruling alliance - parted ways on 18 June 2013.

The Indian Express visited 18 districts to study the communal incidents. The BJP had won 18 of the 23 seats from the 18 districts in the Lok Sabha 2014 polls in comparison to its allies LJP and RLSP which had to settle for two seats each from these districts. Only Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Nalanda seat went to the JD(U).

The synthesis of riots

  • As a political tradition, both the BJP and the JD(U) have been blaming each other for instigating the riots.
  • The BJP talks about paralysed law and order and claims that the ruling political party is biased and appeases Muslims.
  • The JD(U) blames the BJP, calling riots their strategy to consolidate a 'Hindu vote'.

Analysis of the surge in communal incidents

  • 62.6% (418) - the number of communal incidents recorded since June 2013 in 24 districts. The Muslim population in these districts is below the state average of 16.5 per cent. The JD(U) claims that this shows that the BJP is working to polarise the community and thereby consolidate a Hindu vote. The BJP had won 22 seats in these 24 districts in the last Lok Sabha elections.
  • In the 2009 elections, three out of the 12 seats were won by the BJP in Katihar, Araria and Purnea. These seats have the highest concentration of Muslims in the state: 43 per cent, 41 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. In 2014 these seats were won by the RJD, NCP and JD(U). These seats fall in a belt that shows the lowest number of communal incidents in June 2013-June 2015
  • The BJP bagged 18 seats and its allies won four seats out of the 23 seats where more than 70 per cent of the communal incidents are concentrated.

Communal incidents are on the rise

  • Four districts, Munger, Supaul, Madhepura and Lakhisarai, recorded no communal incidents from January 2010-June 2013. Between June 2013 and June 2015, they recorded about five incidents a year. The total number of incidents recorded was 39.
  • 19 districts recorded fewer than three incidents between January 2010 and June 2013. More than 10 incidents were recorded in these districts between June 2013 and June 2015.

Trivial incidents

  • 427 incidents between June 2013 and June 2015
  • 19 incidents of eve-teasing (which led to riots) between January 2010 and 18 June 2015
  • 145 communal clashes due to eve-teasing from June 2013 to June 2015
  • Jehanabad, the political bastion of Jitan Ram Manjhi, where 18.95 per cent of the population is Dalit, saw its first major communal riot between June 25 and 27 this year

Political allegations

  • "The elections will be held around Durga Puja and Muharram, we may see a harvesting season of communal violence. This is what made us break our ties with the BJP because we realised they want to plant seeds of partition again." - JD(U) president Sharad Yadav
  • "The incidents showed that the government has lost its grip over the state. It has nothing to do with the break-up. Basically, what has happened after the split is that the present government has lost control over the police administration. The normal crime rate has also gone up, so it is not just communal incidents. After the alliance break-up, Nitish Kumar has devoted himself to political management. So the major reason for the rise in communal incidents is a lack of governance." - Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP 's Bihar chief and former deputy chief minister
According to the Indian Express, police officials across the state are worried as there has been a spike in communal incidents since June 2013 in places such as Jehanabad, Rohtas, Saran, Nalanda, Gopalganj and Aurangabad, which only recorded stray communal incidents in 2010-12. Saran in Chhapra is the bastion of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Nalanda of Nitish Kumar.
First published: 21 August 2015, 1:38 IST