Patna: In Nitish Kumar's Bihar, would Narendra Modi be listed as a person belonging to an extreme backward class or EBC?
The question is moot, but the BJP in Bihar is engaged in complicated equations to conclude that Mr Modi is indeed an EBC leader. Mostly because that will help it put Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a spot over his wholehearted opposition to the possibility of Mr Modi being named presumptive Prime Minister by the NDA, the BJP-led national alliance that his party, the Janata Dal (United), partners in.
So last week, Nitish Kumar's deputy, Sushil Modi of the BJP, declared that every one should help an EBC leader, read Narendra Modi, become Prime Minister. Mr Kumar was non-committal yesterday. "I do not know anything on this. But time will tell who belongs to which caste soon enough," he said.
Mr Modi is a Ghanchi, a caste that is listed among Other Backward Classes or OBCs in Gujarat. In Bihar and other states like Uttar Pradesh, the counterpart of the Ghanchi are the Teli, who are listed as OBCs and not EBCs. But the Bihar BJP reckons that if it says enough times that Mr Modi is an EBC, the tag will stick.
In this maze of abbreviations, the BJP finds an EBC leader more politically potent than an OBC - EBCs are poorer than OBCs.
The canny Mr Kumar is not ready to join issue with the BJP on this yet, though he cautioned the partner yesterday saying, "alliances are formed on the basis of consensus, not under compulsion...any alliance cobbled together under compulsion does not last."
Mr Kumar recently told the BJP, publically, that the JD (U) would exit the longstanding alliance if it did not find an alternative to Mr Modi to lead the NDA in the 2014 general elections. He gave the BJP till December this year to decide.
The Bihar BJP is still seething; Sushil Modi has asserted that the JD(U) has no right to veto the BJP's choice for Prime Minister. Mr Kumar's response was matter-of-fact: "Yes I do agree, but if our point of view is not respected, then as a party we have the right to take a call on a future course of action."