Bihar: Nitish and Tejashwi unite over caste census
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav appeared to have found common ground on Friday over their demand for a caste census and a common opponent in the BJP.
RJD leader Tejashwi and other legislators from the Opposition Grand Alliance met Nitish in his Assembly office on the last day of the monsoon session. At the meeting, Tejashwi demanded that the Bihar government pile pressure on the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre to conduct a caste census along with the general census that is due this year.
“The chief minister has expressed support for the caste census. He assured me that he would write to the Prime Minister on August 2 after returning from Delhi and also seek time to meet him over the issue. It is important to enumerate caste-wise data other than those on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the census,” Tejashwi told reporters.
Nitish later left for Delhi to participate in the national executive of his JDU. He will return on August 2.
Tejashwi said he had also suggested that Bihar conduct a caste census on its own on the lines of Karnataka.
“Nitishji said he had sought documents related to the caste census in Karnataka and would go through them before arriving at any decision. Every citizen has the right to know about the status of his caste. The caste census will help the government formulate better development schemes,” Tejashwi said.
Caste census has been a longstanding demand of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Nitish. Both have asserted that it would help revise the reservation pattern in government jobs and educational institutions on the basis of the strength of the various castes.Earlier this month, Union minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai had said in the Lok Sabha that there were no plans for caste-wise enumeration of the population, other than the SCs and STs.
It prompted Nitish to iterate his support for the caste census and ask the Centre to reconsider its decision.
The BJP tried to downplay the emerging unity between its ally Nitish and the RJD-led Opposition over the caste census.
“Nobody knows the exact number of the poor in our country. Therefore, they should be counted. Those who want to divide the society on the basis of a caste census should understand that the number of poor is more than any caste,” BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan said on Friday.
“We practise nationalism and nationalistic politics. It is not compatible with the divisive casteism and caste-based politics practised by many regional- and family-dominated parties,” a senior BJP leader told The Telegraph.