All-party meeting in Bihar: Ruling allies pitch for more quota, BJP says survey flawed
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar holds all-party meeting to discuss increasing quota for weaker sections after release of caste survey findings.
A day after the findings of the caste survey in Bihar were released, chief minister Nitish Kumar held an all-party meeting where representatives of constituents and allies of the ruling Mahagathbandhan made a pitch for increasing the quota for weaker and deprived sections while the opposition BJP called the caste survey an exercise in “haste”.
After the meeting, Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Vijay Kumar Sinha, told reporters that there were several discrepancies in the survey findings.
Sinha, according to people privy to what transpired at the all-party meeting, claimed that no enumerator had come to his house during the survey.
The caste survey data, collected in two phases this year starting January, was released on Monday. As per the report, other backward classes (OBCs) and extremely backward classes (EBCs) together account for 63.13% of the state’s current population, which has been estimated at more than 13 crore. Scheduled caste/ tribes together account for around 20%.
At the meeting, as per people quoted earlier, RJD, JD(U) and Left parties pitched for higher reservations to sections which were socially and economically backward and for tailoring welfare schemes keeping in mind the socio-economic profile of castes groups.
Sarvajeet Kumar, agriculture minister and senior RJD leader, who attended the meeting, said later, “The idea is to bring the most deprived sections into the mainstream. We suggested that caste data, having socio-economic profile of various castes, is a tool to uplift the deprived sections through reservations and tailor-made schemes.”
CPI-ML (Liberation) leader Mehboob Alam said he had broached the idea of increasing reservations for those belonging to backward and economically poorer sections. “There should be reservations based on the numerical strength of populations of various caste groups,” Alam said.
Currently, 50% of jobs and seats in educational institutions in Bihar are reserved for OBCs, EBCs, scheduled castes/tribes and women from backward classes.
HAM(S) founder and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, who also attended the meeting, expressed his concerns over the decline in the population of his caste group Manjhi, a scheduled caste. At the meeting, Manjhi said there could be some an anomaly in the caste survey report as the real population of Manjhis was much higher than 3.08 % reported in the survey.
Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed Khan said he had suggested on addressing the economic disparity through various government interventions based on the survey report.
The meeting was attended by representatives of nine major parties in the state — RJD, JD(U), Congress, CPI-ML(Liberation), CPI, CPM, AIMIM, opposition BJP and HAM(Secular). The meeting, which lasted over two hours, began with officials giving a presentation on how the caste survey exercise was carried out, the data collated from households and the mechanism in compiling the data.
Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and finance minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary were also present.
A government press release issued later said CM Kumar told the all-party meeting that the caste survey was carried in a proper manner and educational and economic data of households was collected. “We will take the opinion of all parties to work in the interest of the state ‘s population based on the caste survey report.Our objective is to uplift the deprived sections and we will do it with consensus,” Kumar was quoted as saying.
The CM also recalled how the caste survey was carried out after a long wait and after several resolutions passed by the state assembly and legislative council.