History of Electoral Violence in Bihar
*Corresponding Author: Sanjay Kumar, Research Scholar, PG Department of Political Science, B. R. A. Bihar University, Muzaffarpur. email@example.com
The first light of democracy on the globe was seen in Bihar about 400 BCE in Vaishali (modern Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sitamarhi, Seohar and adjoining districts) more than two thousand years before the British rulers introduced the local self government in India. Bihar has been a socially backward caste dominated state in terms of population. However, during the British period and the first four decades post independence period, the upper caste dominated the politics of Bihar. We find that the backward castes and people of schedule castes and schedule tribes (with parts now gone with Jharkhand) who accounted about 85 to 87% of the total population mostly remained out of the power or their presence remained symbolic. Not only they got only symbolic representation, their voters were asked to vote upon the will of their upper caste masters. Those who protested paid the cost. Freedom of India brought some change. Reservation was given to SC and ST people in the parliament and legislative bodies which gave them an opportunity to raise their representation. Although, the people of backward castes did not get any reservation, however, they realised the power of their proportion in the population and began to challenge the hegemony of upper castes. To most part of this period congress ruled the local self government bodies as well as the state government. The politics of Bihar Congress have been always dominated by the upper caste leaders even when the post of the Chief Minister went with Dalit leaders like Bhola Paswan Shastri. The major part of the twentieth century, congress ruled the state. After a little stint of Janta Government, Congress returned to power in 1980 and remained till 1990. In 1990, Laloo Prasad Yadav became the chief minister of Janta Dal government. In 1991, V.P. Singh announced 27% reservation of OBCs. This changed the equation of politics in Bihar forever. Earlier, the upper caste dominated Congress party and its supporter had been causing violence in election, now in the name of social justice Laloo began to embrace all sorts of criminal elements in his party. In the 10 years Rule of Congress from 1980–1990, and 15 years of Laloo and his wife from 1990 – 2005, Bihar set records for booth capturing, pre and post pole violence. After, 2005, the situation has changed but still the incidents of peaceful booth capturing and social unrest take place in Bihar. In October-November 2015, the assembly election is purposed in the state and the peaceful elections are a challenge not only for the election commission of India and the state government but also for the people of Bihar.
Bihar Elections, Caste Conflicts, Booth Capturing, Electoral Violence, Social changes.