Some top leaders in the BJP may be wanting the party to change its line supporting caste census, but the deputy chief minister of poll-bound Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi — also the party’s OBC face there — has come out strongly in support of caste headcount.
“The stand taken by the BJP in Parliament by Sushma Swaraj and Gopinath Munde should not be diluted under pressure of any group or individual,” Modi told HT over phone. “Caste is a reality of life. When there are caste quotas, why should there not be a headcount?”
He also hinted that opposing caste census might have a negative impact on the poll-bound state, which has not seen a non-OBC chief minister for about two decades now, and which has a strong OBC politics. “The BJP should be seen as taking a stand in favour of the larger (bahusankhyak) section of society,” he said. “I am talking to BJP leaders on this.”
Modi’s message: The party has to embrace OBCs for a wider appeal, and cannot be seen as an “upper caste” party, a tag that it has had since the Jana Sangh days.
The deputy CM added that one reason Bihar could keep the Left-wing extremism under check was to bring the most backward castes into the political mainstream through Panchayat reservations.
The BJP is in alliance with JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar, a Kurmi OBC leader who broke with Lalu Prasad in the 1990s to chart his own course in politics.