Nitish reiterates census demand, says will call all-party meet in Bihar

Nitish Kumar’s reiteration of the demand for caste census comes just two days after leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav had asked the chief minister to clear his stand on the issue in light of the Centre giving an affidavit in the Supreme Court.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday reiterated his demand for a caste-based census and announced that he would soon discuss the issue with all political parties in the state. (PTI PHOTO.)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday reiterated his demand for a caste-based census and announced that he would soon discuss the issue with all political parties in the state. (PTI PHOTO.)
Updated on Sep 27, 2021 12:58 AM IST
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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday reiterated his demand for caste-based census and announced that he would soon discuss the issue with all political parties in the state in light of the Centre’s affidavit to the Supreme Court reasoning that conducting a caste enumeration exercise for backward classes was not feasible.

“There should be a caste-based census as it is in the interest of the country and will help in identifying groups that are socially, economically backward. A caste census would help in extending government schemes to poor and backward classes more efficiently,” Kumar said, after attending a high level meeting on tackling left wing extremism chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.

“I will be discussing our demand for a caste-based census with all parties in Bihar to adopt our future course of action in light of the new perspective of the Centre’s stand before the Supreme Court,” Kumar said. The statement clearly underlines how the JD (U) strongman, whose party is a constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by BJP, is not in the mood to dilute his stand on the demand for enumeration of castes and likely to side with opposition parties on holding such an exercise.

Kumar’s reiteration of the demand for caste census comes just two days after leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav had asked the chief minister to clear his stand on the issue in light of the Centre giving an affidavit in the Supreme Court.

Referring to the Maoist insurgency, the chief minister said in Bihar, the situation of left wing extremism had improved to a great extent than previous times because of the state’s initiative to take big strides on the development front. In the mid-80s and 1990, the state had witnessed bloody clashes and violence due to the spread of left wing extremist groups.

“Since we came to power in 2005, we have worked for development and taken a slew of measures to tackle left extremism. The Centre too has taken a number of measures. This has helped in tackling the problem because development is reaching people,” he said. But the chief minister did emphasize that there was no reason for being complacent on left wing extremist activities. “We cannot be complacent on the issue,” he said. There are 13 districts affected by left wing extremism in the state.

Referring to the caste census, the chief minister, whose party JD (U) is a constituent in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), maintained the exercise to collect caste data had its importance for all sections of the society. He said the socio-economic caste census (SECC) conducted in 2011 was not an exclusive caste census as it had different parameters and was not done in a proper manner. “I urge the Centre to hold the caste census. I along with an all-party delegation had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand a caste census. The Bihar assembly has also passed a resolution for a caste-based census unanimously twice,” Kumar said.

Incidentally, Kumar whose JD (U) has a considerable support base among backward classes including extremely backward classes (EBCs) has shared a common platform with the opposition RJD to demand a caste census. On Saturday, leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav too had made a firm pitch for a caste-based census by writing to 33 non-BJP leaders of the country to muster support for the conduct of enumeration of castes. Yadav in his letter had stressed that the Centre had not given one single rational reason against the desirability of the caste census.

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Thursday, December 09, 2021