Caste-based census a must: What Bihar politicians said ahead of meeting with PM Modi
- Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar told reporters on Sunday that a caste-based census should be done at least once as not only Bihar but the whole country will benefit from it
A delegation of leaders from 10 political parties in Bihar is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday at 11am to discuss the issue of conducting a caste-based census. The delegation will be led by chief minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav will also accompany him.
Kumar told reporters on Sunday that a caste-based census should be done at least once as not only Bihar but the whole country will benefit from it. “It is a crucial issue and we have been seeking this for a long time. It if works out, nothing could be better than that. Moreover, it would not just be for Bihar, people in the whole country will benefit from this. It should be done at least once. We will put forward our views from this angle. We will keep our views before the PM on Monday,” Kumar, whose Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) is an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told reporters.
Yadav, the leader of Opposition in Bihar, said earlier this month that he wrote to PM Modi asking for a discussion on the caste-based census. He also said that Kumar has assured all opposition parties of a meeting with the Prime Minister and also written a letter to him on August 4. “If he has not been granted time for a week now, somehow it is an insult to the CM,” the RJD leader was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
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The young RJD leader warned that if the Centre failed to meet the demand of a caste-based census then they will be “left with no option but to sit on dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi”.
Bihar minister and BJP leader Janak Ram struck a more conciliatory tone. "I'm part of the delegation led by Nitish Kumar Ji that will meet PM today. On the issue of the caste-based census, whatever decision the PM takes should be acceptable to us," he told news agency ANI.
Mukesh Sahni, president of Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and minister in Bihar government, told ANI that a caste-based census will help in collecting information on many small castes who have been so far kept away from the purview of development. This will in turn let the government make better policies for them, he said. "I am a minister in Bihar for the animal and fisheries department and we are counting a number of animals to know how many horses, elephants, camels and other animals there are in our state. If you keep information about animals then why not keep information about humans," he added.
Congress leader Ajeet Sharma too spoke in favour of a caste-based census insisting that it will bring an end to social hatred and that the ultimate aim of such a census exercise is to ensure reservation in government departments. "I believe that by conducting a caste census, social hatred will end. The purpose of the caste-based census is reservation. In all the government departments, whether it is the central government or the state government, all the people of each class should be given reservations according to the caste census," he said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Ajay Kumar also expressed similar sentiments and said that he asked Kumar to meet with the Prime Minister so that caste-based exploitation can be rectified with the help of caste-based census. “We told the CM that we should meet PM because it (caste-based census) is needed, caste-based exploitation takes place even today. A caste-based census will be like a mirror to help rectify this. So, we will meet PM today, under the leadership of CM Nitish Kumar,” Kumar told ANI.
Besides Kumar and Yadav, JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary, former chief minister and president of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) Jitan Ram Manjhi, Congress legislature party leader Ajeet Sharma, BJP leader Janak Ram, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Mahboob Alam, Akhtarul Imam of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Mukesh Sahni of VIP, Suryakant Paswan of Communist Party of India and Ajay Kunar of Communist Party of India (Marxist), will also be present in the meeting.
Members of the delegation were pictured leaving Bihar Bhavan in the capital and arriving at South Block on Monday morning to meet with the Prime Minister. Before heading off for the meeting Yadav told news agency ANI that caste-based census will help in making relevant benefit schemes, and a resolution on the same has already been passed twice in the state assembly.