In A Nitish Kumar Move, Nod To Rival Tejashwi Yadav, Snub For Ally BJP


Caste Census: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar appears unlikely to yield to the pressure from BJP.


Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said his government would soon start work on a caste census after taking the views of all parties, backing opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav’s demand in his latest snub to ally BJP.

An all-party meet on a caste census is likely on May 27, he said.

“We will call an all-party meeting to take everyone’s views on a caste-based census. Then the proposal will be presented before the state cabinet. We have spoken to some parties on conducting the meeting on 27 (May) but we are waiting for some parties to respond. After a final decision, the proposal will go to the cabinet and then we will start work,” the chief minister told reporters.

“We have started talks with every party. Everyone is not on board. We are waiting for their response,” Nitish Kumar said.

His deputy Tarkishor Prasad of the BJP, who was at the same spot as the Chief Minister, was noncommittal to media questions on whether the BJP agreed with Nitish Kumar on the caste census.

“We will discuss it and consider various aspects,” Mr Prasad told reporters.

The central government has long stated that a caste-based census is a divisive exercise. But Bihar political parties argue that knowing the caste constitution of the population will lead to better policies to help the most neglected in the society.

Last year, a delegation of Bihar politicians, which including Nitish Kumar as well as the opposition RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to press for a caste census.

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The last caste-based count was held in 1931. That was under the British rule and when Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha were one entity.

After independence, leaders like BR Ambedkar argued a caste census would be inimical to an equitable society. Every census since has only counted Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

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