Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding caste-based census and said that the Prime Minister listened to the demands and added that the delegation has asked him to take a decision on the issue.
“PM Modi listened to our demand for a caste census and we hope he will consider it. He has not denied our demand so far. We have asked him to take a decision," Nitish Kumar said after the meeting.
The delegation including CM Nitish Kumar, Tejashwi Yadav- Leader of Opposition in Bihar Legislative Assembly and leaders from 10 political parties met PM Modi at 11 am today on the issue of caste-based census.
After the meeting with the Prime Minister, CM Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav, who are bitter rivals in Bihar, were seen talking and standing together.
Leader of Opposition in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav said that the delegation demanded caste based census throughout the country. “Our delegation met the PM today not only for caste census in the state (Bihar) but in the entire country. We are awaiting a decision on this now," Yadav said.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and former deputy CM Sushil Modi yesterday said that his party is not against such an exercise.
“BJP was never against caste-based census, we have also been part of resolutions passed in the legislative assembly and council in its support. The delegation that will meet PM Modi also includes a BJP representative," Sushil Modi wrote in a series of posts on Sunday.
In another tweet, Sushil Modi said BJP’s Gopinath Munde had spoken in favour of a caste-based count in parliament. “When the then government conducted a social, economic and caste-based assessment, there were shortcomings in data. The number of communities ran into lakhs. That report was not made public because of the errors. It was not part of the Census," he said.
He added that the last time a caste-based count took place was in 1931, under British rule, when Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha were one entity.
A report in NDTV said that Sushil Modi’s comments betrayed the ruling BJP’s tough political tightrope walk on the subject weeks after the government told parliament that it had decided not to carry out a caste-based count as a matter of policy.
All parties in Bihar have called for a caste census, but for the BJP, it is a politically tricky subject with the state agenda at odds with the national view.
The demand for a caste census was triggered by a statement by the Centre in Parliament last month that populations of only SCs and STs were proposed to be enumerated.
In states like Bihar, where OBCs have dominated politics since the Mandal era, this has led to a vociferous demand for a headcount of backward classes as well. Kumar reiterated that there is a countrywide sentiment in favour of a caste census being conducted at least once. There should be no misgivings as such an exercise will be beneficial for all social groups.