Centre dragging feet on Bihar's concern over caste census, says Tejashwi Yadav
The opposition RJD in Bihar on Friday accused the Centre of dragging its feet over the state's "unanimous" demand for a caste-based census.
The party's de facto leader Tejashwi Yadav, who addressed a press conference here, warned that if given a short shrift by the Narendra Modi government, political leaders in the state will "have no other option except to sit on a dharna at Jantar Mantar until their voices are heard".
Referring to a letter sent by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a week ago, seeking an appointment to discuss the issue, Yadav said "it is appalling that the PM has not deigned to give a reply".
"This is despite the fact that the people of Bihar voted for the NDA overwhelmingly in the Lok Sabha polls when the BJP-led coalition won all but one of the 40 seats in the state," said Yadav, whose own party drew a blank in 2019 but made an impressive comeback in assembly polls two years later.
By not even responding to the letter, the PM is in fact "insulting" our chief minister, said the 32 years' old leader of the opposition, in a deft attempt to fish in troubled waters between the BJP and Nitish Kumar, who controls the JD(U) and has been his father Lalu Prasad's arch rival.
"The chief minister wrote to the PM after a meeting he held with all opposition leaders who suggested that the matter be taken up with the Centre since there is a unanimity on the issue in Bihar where resolutions to the effect have been twice passed in the legislature," said Yadav who had led the opposition delegation that met the CM during the Monsoon session of the assembly.
The RJD leader was pointed out at the press meet that he claimed to be speaking on behalf of all parties though the BJP in the state has, of late, changed tack and started echoing the view of its top leadership which seems to be in favour of enumerating the population of just the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
"They (BJP leaders) may say anything. But they too had supported the resolutions in the legislature.......I hope if things come to a pass and we end up sitting on a dharna, they too will join us," said the wily leader with a smirk.
Political temperature in the state has been soaring ever since the Centre disclosed its stand on caste census, proposing to keep out the OBCs, who are numerically powerful and have been dominating the politics in Bihar since the Mandal churn.
Yadav also brushed aside queries about recurring run-ins between his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav and his confidant and state RJD chief Jagadanand Singh who was recently slighted by some uncharitable remarks by the maverick sibling.
"All is fine. There are no problems in the party," asserted Yadav, who has been a favourite of his father and has come to overshadow all siblings who have evinced interest in politics.