Bihar was conspicuously missing when the BJP announced its first list of candidates for next month's national election on Thursday, after days of deliberation. The ruling party said its 17 candidates in Bihar would be announced by its state leadership, along with alliance partners.
The move has raised curiosity, given that the names of BJP's candidates in Bihar are more or less public.
Party leaders reveal that there's a worry about "over representation of upper castes" in a state where caste is a pivotal theme in poll math.
Sources say the BJP wants to wait until its ally, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, finalises its candidates.
According to a list that has been floating in the public domain, but has neither been confirmed nor denied, nine of the 17 candidates - the BJP's share of the state's 40 seats following its deal with allies - are from the upper castes which constitute 15 per cent of Bihar's population.
Among these nine candidates is Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is set to fight against his party colleague-turned-rebel Shatrughan Sinha in the Patna Saheb constituency. Ravi Shankar Prasad is from the Kayastha community.
The other candidates, Radha Mohan Singh, Rajkumar Singh, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sushil Singh and Janardan Singh Sigriwal, are all from Rajput caste. Union Minister Giriraj Singh, who is expected to move to the Begusarai seat, is from the Bhumihar caste and there are two Brahmins - Ashwini Choubey And Gopalji Thakur.
More than 50 per cent BJP candidates, therefore, are from the upper caste. In the remaining eight seats, two candidates are from the Economically Backward Class and five from the OBC (Other Backward Class). One candidate, Chedi Paswan, is from the Scheduled Caste and will contest from the Sasaram seat, which is reserved.
The BJP has apparently learnt its lesson from the 2015 assembly elections when its list was similarly "over-represented by upper castes". The party lost the election, winning only 53 of the state's 243 seats.
The BJP leadership is hoping that it can get the caste algorithm right with the Janata Dal (United) list, which, it believes, will have more candidates from the backward castes.
The party has still not forgotten when Nitish Kumar, then its rival, and Lalu Yadav had released their entire list for the 2015 election, putting the BJP-led coalition on the back-foot because their candidates were mostly from the backward caste.
The national election will be held from April 11 to May 19 in seven rounds. Bihar will vote in seven phases, April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12, and May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.