Will take ‘sensible’ step to reduce discrimination: Odisha CM Patnaik on caste census
- Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s statement comes a day after RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav wrote to 33 non-BJP leaders, seeking their support on the demand for caste census in 2022.
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday said that the state government will do whatever is “sensible” for its people in order to cut down discrimination in the region. His remarks were in response to his move on the caste census in the state. “Our government stands by it and we are fighting for it,” he told news agency ANI.
The caste census has caused a tiff between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre and several non-BJP leaders. Earlier in the day, Union home minister Amit Shah chaired a review meeting on Left-wing extremism with 10 states that saw the attendance of Patnaik and his Jharkhand and Bihar counterparts Hemant Soren and Nitish Kumar, respectively.
Kumar on Sunday said that caste census is a “legitimate demand” and is the need of the hour. “It is pro-development and will help policymakers frame targeted welfare policies for backward castes. Caste census must take place. We'll hold an all-party meeting over this matter in Bihar,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Patnaik and Kumar’s statements come after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday wrote a letter to 33 non-BJP leaders – including Patnaik, Soren and Kumar —seeking their support on the demand for caste census. In the letter, which Tejashwi shared on his Twitter profile, he mentioned that the purpose behind seeking the support of the leaders were the “shared apprehension and responsibilities” due to the “apathy of the ruling party (BJP) at the Centre towards the same.”
Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav – who was among the 33 non-BJP leaders who received the letter from Tejashwi —also took to the micro-blogging site on Saturday to share his displeasure over the Centre’s recent affidavit to the Supreme Court against conducting a caste census in 2022.
“By rejecting the long-standing demand for enumeration of ‘OBC’ society, the BJP government has proved that it does not want to count the ‘Other Backward Classes’ because it does not want to give rights to the OBCs in proportion to their population,” Yadav tweeted.
The first caste census was conducted in 2011 when the Congress was ruling at the Centre. However, the BJP-led central government recently informed the apex court that the data of the 2011 census has been rendered “unusable” as it is laden with “mistakes and inaccuracies.”
The ruling dispensation further stated that inclusion of any other backward caste apart from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) under the ambit of the upcoming census would be “administratively difficult” and against the government’s policy decision.