Nitish Kumar sidesteps queries about BJP’s reservations on caste census

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday sidestepped a query about apprehensions expressed by ally BJP over the proposed headcount of castes in the state. “Pata nahin,” (I am not aware) was the curt reply of the chief minister who was asked by journalists about state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal’s demand that “Rohingyas” be kept out of the purview of the survey.

After the all-party meeting gave its consent for the state-specific survey earlier this week, Jaiswal came out with a Facebook post asserting that his party supported the move but saw a few areas of concern.

The state BJP chief, who claimed to have flagged his concerns at the meeting, said that it must be ensured that the survey “exclude foreign infiltrators like Bangladeshis and Rohingyas (from Myanmar)” lest they might get legitimacy.

Another point of contention raised by Jaiswal was that in the Seemanchal region upper caste Sheikh Muslims were allegedly known to falsely claim OBC status for reservation benefits and such anomalies must be put to an end by the survey.

Kumar, who belongs to the JD(U) and is popular among Muslims, is likely to be discomfited by BJP’s stance.

However, having got a cabinet clearance for the exercise which will cost at least Rs 500 crore to the exchequer, the Chief Minister chose not to look at the seamier side and focus on the benefits that the survey promises to bring to “all sections of the society, without exception”.

He also laughed away attempts by opposition parties like RJD to claim credit for “pushing” the government in the state to do the needful.

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