Hold caste Census in 2021 to gauge OBC numbers, pave way for crossing 50% quota cap: Nitish
The Bihar chief minister said that there was no uncertainty regarding population figures of SC/STs since the Census took them into account. Once the OBC population’s numbers were accounted for, clarity would emerge and a proper decision could be taken on the issue, he said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that conducting caste-based Census in 2021 was the way forward for taking a call on the growing demand for a hike in the 50% quota ceiling, which, according to him, was reasonable in view of the increase in the population of the OBC sections.
“As of now, we are bound by Supreme Court’s cap of 50%. But the demand for aligning the ceiling with population has merit as the last caste Census was carried out way back in 1931,” he said, in his view on the population-based quota debate in wake of Centre’s 10% reservation policy for EWS (economically weaker sections), after his weekly Lok Samvad programme.
The chief minister said that there was no uncertainty regarding population figures of SC/STs since the Census took them into account. Once the OBC population’s numbers were accounted for, clarity would emerge and a proper decision could be taken on the issue, he said.
To a related query on state governments stand on 10% quota for poor among the upper castes, Nitish Kumar said that after notification of the new Constitutional provision by the Centre, it will also be implemented in Bihar.
“We are seeking legal opinion on the process for its implementation, either through executive order or making provision in the Act. It will be rolled out shortly,” he said. BJP-ruled states of Gujarat, UP and Jharkhand have already implemented it.
A product of OBC politics, albeit not in the exact mould of his friend-turned-foe Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar has been favouring quotas for SCs/STs and OBCs in private sector jobs and hiking the ceiling on the cap of reservation for OBCs for quite some time.
After backing the idea on April 10, 2016, soon after he rode to success in 2015 assembly polls in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nitish Kumar not only sought a national debate on the subject, but after switching sides to form government with support of BJP in July 2017, also went ahead to introduce reservation in outsourced jobs for government work.
Aware of the compulsion to adjust to the rationale for providing opportunities to the EWS in changing times, Nitish Kumar also made it a point to use the occasion to demand that Centre should incorporate EBC (extremely backward class) formula for classification of OBCs for ensuring equal access to quota benefits to all eligible sections.
Nitish Kumar, who has also taken a divergent stand on Citizenship Amendment Bill for Assam and triple talaq, was in complete agreement with the BJP on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), currently under Opposition flak, for ensuing polls.
Ever since, EVMs have been deployed for voting, people have been queuing up to cast their mandate. “It is a dramatic reversal in the trend of booth management evident during ballot paper days. Earlier polls centred round booths, today it focuses on the presence of individual voters,” he said, adding “100% availability of VVPAT system at the polling station would ensure greater transparency.”
Referring to JD (U)’s stand on Citizenship Amendment Bill and its solidarity with Asom Gana Parishad on the issue, Kumar said “we believe that it is a question of identity for them. We have conveyed our stand and the concerns of AGP to the BJP, which has to take a call. We enjoy a very good relationship with BJP and Bihar polls results will be more than satisfactory.”