Carefully worked-out caste arithmetic meets the eye on perusal of the list of Lok Sabha candidates in Bihar announced by the NDA, comprising the BJP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP.
The coalition, which is expected to secure a major chunk of the votes of upper castes who are believed to be, by and large, supporters of the BJP, has given tickets to 13 people of the 'general category'.
Only one of the candidates, JD(U) nominee from Kishanganj Mahmood Ashraf, is a Muslim. Speculation was rife that the BJP's Muslim face Shahnawaz Husain would be fielded from Bhagalpur or Kishanganj, the seats he had earlier represented in the Lok Sabha, but both went to the JD(U).
The coalition is yet to come out with the name of its candidate for Khagaria, which the LJP has retained. It is currently represented by Mahboob Ali Kaisar, a former president of the state Congress unit.
Among the upper caste candidates, seven are Rajputs who in the distant past had sided with the Janata Dal, founded by V P Singh, and remained sympathetic, for some time, to its splinter group, the RJD, founded by Lalu Prasad.
Notable among them are Radha Mohan Singh (Motihari), R K Singh (Ara) and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran), all from the BJP.
Besides, three candidates -- Giriraj Singh (BJP- Begusarai), Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan (JDU-Munger) and Chandan Kumar (LJP-Nawada) -- belong to the Bhumihar community, believed to be the most vocal and assertive among all the upper caste groups in Bihar.
Two Brahmins from the BJP, Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Buxar) and Gopalji Thakur (Darbhanga), have found a place in the list.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, a Kayasth, has been fielded from Patna Sahib, which has a sizeable population of the community. He faces the challenge of retaining the seat for the BJP in a straight contest with second-term MP Shatrughan Sinha, who is likely to be fielded this time by the Congress.
Twelve candidates in the list belong to the OBCs, including five Yadavs, the most populous in the state and on whom the RJD banks heavily in addition to the Muslims. Notable Yadav candidates in the contest are state BJP president Nityanand Rai (Ujiyarpur) and Ram Kripal Yadav (Pataliputra).
Six Dalits are also in the fray in as many reserved constituencies. Four of these are Paswans, including the LJP chief's son Chirag (Jamui) and brothers Ram Chandra Paswan (Samastipur) and Pashupati Kumar Paras (Hajipur).
Seven candidates, hailing from numerically small, geographically scattered and extremely backward classes such as Dhanuk, Kevat, Gangota and Chandravanshi Kahaar, have also made it to the list.
"The NDA has adequately represented every section of the society in its distribution of tickets. The coalition is going to demolish the divisive and casteist politics of the RJD and Grand Alliance parties in the Lok Sabha elections," BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said.Bihar, which has 40 parliamentary constituencies, goes to polls in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.