Bihar to hold caste-based census soon; BJP on board

Bihar to hold caste-based census soon; BJP on board
Bihar will conduct a caste-based census soon, chief minister Nitish Kumar has said. The state Cabinet will meet to approve the decision and draw the contours of the census, Kumar said after an all-party meeting in Patna on Wednesday. There was unanimity on the census at the meeting attended by representatives of BJP, JDU, RJD, Congress, CPIML, CPIM, CPI, AIMIM and HAM.

“The all party meeting decided unanimously to conduct a caste-based census in Bihar. We will get it approved by the Cabinet in the coming days. Work will start very soon at a large level and all people to be involved in the census will be trained before the exercise begins,” Kumar told media persons after the meeting.

Kumar said the exercise will be called ‘caste-based census’ in which details of all castes in all communities, along with their economic status and other social parameters, will be recorded. “The census is aimed at getting the true picture of all communities and castes to help us in policy making and to improve livelihood conditions of those in the lower strata,” Kumar said.

After the Cabinet meet, the state government will publish advertisements on the census and furnish every detail to maintain clarity and transparency, Kumar said. The contours of the census would also be in public domain for transparency. The state government will also have a timeline for the exercise.

The demand for a caste-based census during the decennial exercise was put forth to the Centre by leaders of Bihar. An all-party delegation from Bihar had met PM Modi last August and demanded a caste census. However, in reply to a question in Parliament, in December, the home ministry said that there was no plan to collect caste data other than those of SCs and STs during the census. Discussion has been on in Bihar for the state to conduct a caste-based census since then.

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Reservations to Backward Castes has been a political hot potato since the VP Singh government announced implementation of the Mandal Commission report. In recent court hearings, the Supreme Court has on a few occasions questioned the rationale of the quantum of reservations to OBCs without empirical evidence. Those favouring a caste-based census have argued that such data could be obtained through the exercise.

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