“Requested To Meet PM, No Response Yet”: Nitish Kumar As Caste Census Issue Heats Up

Except the saffron party, all parties in Bihar have called for a caste census. Other Bihar leaders like Jitan Ram Manjhi and Tejashwi Yadav have also supported the demand.

Pressing for a caste-based census in the state, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said he had requested an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the subject but had not received a response till now.

Earlier, parliamentarians belonging to Mr Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) had been denied a meeting with PM Modi and had been told they should meet with Union Home Minister Amit Shah instead.

Worries that a caste census will upset some people are without basis, the Bihar CM has stressed.

“It is up to the Centre to do a caste census or not… our job is to put forth our views. Do not think that one caste will like and another will not… It is in everyone’s interest,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“No tension will be created in the society. There will be happiness… People from every strata will benefit from schemes,” he told reporters, adding that such a census “happened under British rule too”.

However, Nitish Kumar’s ally BJP has expressed concerns over caste-based Census. Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal had said it might have an adverse impact on social amity.

Mr Kumar said no BJP MLA had raised any objection when the Bihar assembly passed a resolution favouring a caste-based census and sent it to the Centre. “Then why objections are being raised from some quarters is beyond my understanding,” he questioned.

Junior Home Minister Nityanand Rai, in a response to a question in Lok Sabha last month, has said: “The Government of India has decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in Census”.

Except the saffron party, all parties in Bihar have called for a caste census. Other Bihar leaders like HAM (Hindustan Awam Morcha) chief and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav have also supported the demand, and have come together on the issue.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale, another BJP ally, has also called for it.

The leader of opposition in Bihar assembly- Tejashwi Yadav- has asked the Nitish Kumar government to conduct such an exercise “on its own” if the Centre disagrees.

Mr Kumar should head a delegation of leaders from Bihar – including him – or speak to the Prime Minister and “reason out the issue”, Tejashwi Yadav said.

“However, if the Chief Minister expresses inability to take this course of action, I want to suggest that the state government conduct a census of all castes like Karnataka did some time back,” said the leader of the Opposition.

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