New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday repeated the allegation he made a day earlier that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and ally Lalu Prasad were conspiring to take away the share of reservation from dalits, mahadalits, backwards and extremely backward communities.

Addressing a public meeting in Bihar’s Bettiah, where he is campaigning for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in the remaining phases of the assembly election, Modi said, “There is a conspiracy take away 5% reservation from dalits, mahadalits, backwards and extremely backwards. It is a game being played by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad. The game is to take away share of reservation from dalits, tribals and downtrodden. They want to take 5% from dalits, 5% from mahadalits, 5% from backwards, and 5% from extremely backwards. We have to decide in this election that we will not allow it to happen; we will not allow anyone to take away our rights."

The prime minister also emphasised that the right of reservation was given to dalits and tribals by Babasaheb Ambedkar and the BJP will not allow this to be taken away.

The move is seen as an attempt by Modi to change the narrative on reservation after his party was attacked by Kumar and Prasad following Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on a rethink of the reservation policy. The comments from RSS, the ideological parent of the BJP, came as a setback for the party, which is battling to win the elections in the state which has deep caste alignments.

Both JD(U) and RJD have tried to make the Bihar election a contest between upper and lower castes.

Political analysts feel the Prime Minister is talking about reservation issue to get the support of dalits and other backward classes (OBCs) in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). “The Prime Minister is trying to play the OBC card. He is trying to prove with each public meeting that he is also OBC. I haven’t heard Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad talk about removing reservation. It seems caste has taken over the issue of development in Bihar polls," said Shahi Sharma, head of political science department at Patna University.

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