PM Modi didn't deny the need for caste-based census, says Nitish Kumar | India News - Times of India

PM Modi didn’t deny the need for caste-based census, says Nitish Kumar | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday tossed the issue of caste-based census in the Centre’s court, saying it was for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a call on estimating the respective strength of castes.
After leading an all-party delegation from Bihar for a meeting with the PM to demand the practice of caste-wise headcount, which was discontinued in 1931, Nitish told reporters, “The Prime Minister listened to all members of the delegation on caste census. We urged the PM to take an appropriate decision on it. We briefed him about how resolutions have been passed in the state assembly twice on caste census.”
The interaction with reporters was marked by the rare sight of the Bihar CM praising his opponent, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, for mooting the idea of taking an all-party delegation to the PM. Yadav, on his part, thanked Kumar for heeding the suggestion.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave all the members of the delegation a patient hearing and “did not deny what we said (need for a caste census)”. “The people of Bihar and the entire country are of the same opinion on this issue. We are grateful to the PM for listening to us. Now, he has to take a decision on this,” the Bihar chief minister said.
Although BJP members have not been averse to a caste-wise count, the party is wary of making a specific commitment to hold one because of the logistical nightmare it is set to present in view of the gigantic nature of the task and its complexities. Sources say that it will certainly not be easy to club it with the forthcoming decennial census for which all the preparations have already been made. The exercise has already been delayed because of Covid restrictions.
A section in BJP also seems to be concerned about the possibility of such an exercise putting a spade in the project to knit a “Hindutva” constituency cutting across castes. “A message is being spread in Bihar that BJP is against a caste-based census, which is wrong. We have never been against it. However, clubbing a caste headcount with the general census might not be possible,” a senior functionary said and added that the government may initiate the process at a later stage. Kumar said it was a central minister’s statement discounting the possibility of conducting a caste-based enumeration of population which served as the trigger for the move to organise the all-party delegation. “It made us anxious as there is unrest among the people. Following the statement, all parties, including the opposition, took the initiative to meet the PM,” Kumar said.
He was referring to junior home minister Nityanand Rai’s written reply in the Rajya Sabha in July that there was no proposal for releasing caste-based population data.
Kumar said all parties from Bihar spoke in one voice on the need for a caste-based census and asserted that statistics will help in formulating development schemes effectively as many of them have not benefited so far in line with their actual population. Tejashwi Yadav said, “Our delegation called on the PM not only for a caste-based census in Bihar but in the entire country. We are awaiting a decision on this now.” BJP’s Janak Ram, who was part of the delegation, said the PM heard out everyone’s view like the “guardian of a family”.





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