Caste-based census: Bihar delegation meets Modi; PM non-committal

Caste-based census: Bihar delegation meets Modi; PM non-committal

A 10-party delegation from Bihar headed by CM Nitish Kumar met PM Narendra Modi on Monday in support of a nationwide caste-based census.

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A 10-party delegation from Bihar, headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday (August 3) seking a nationwide caste-based census.

Kumar was joined by RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and representatives of many other parties, including the BJP, and both leaders made a strong push for counting the population, based on caste.

“People in Bihar and the entire country agree on this issue. We are grateful to the Prime Minister for listening to us. We urge him to take an appropriate decision,” Nitish Kumar said once the meeting ended.

Kumar told reporters later that Modi heard them patiently. Asked about the prime ministers stand on the issue, he said Modi did not “deny it” (caste census) and heard out everyone. “A caste-based census will help in formulating various development plans effectively,” he said.

Also read: Why Nitish’s New Delhi visit is no good news for Modi govt

Speaking strongly in its support, Yadav said it will be a “historic” measure in helping the poor. “If animals and trees can be counted, then so can people,” he said.

Yadav had led an attack on Kumar and the BJP-JDU alliance ahead of last year’s election. He further said that the delegation advised the Prime Minister information collecting on religion should also be avoided if the centre feared a caste-based census could lead to tension.

BJP’s Janak Ram, who was also present at the meeting, agreed to the caste-based census and urged the Prime Minister to consider it.

The BJP and Bihar’s political parties find themselves at a crossroads here. The centre has always maintained that a caste-based census would deepen the divide amongst their countrymen. But Nitish Kumar insists that this would help governments make better policies to uplift neglected sections of the society.

Also read: Nitish’s PM ambition could lead to new political equation in Bihar

“Caste-based census would be not just for Bihar… people in the whole country will benefit from this,” the Bihar Chief Minister told reporters yesterday on his arrival in Delhi.

Before the meeting with the Prime Minister, BJP’s Sushil Modi, however, said his party wasn’t against a caste-based assessment. Sushil had been Kumar’s deputy for many years.

“The 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 wrote in a series of posts on Sunday.

Also read: Nitish Kumar likes babus but his cabinet colleagues have a problem

The last caste-based census took place in 1931, under British rule. Back then, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha were one entity.

But ever since India got its freedom, leaders like BR Ambedkar opposed the caste-based Census.

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