Caste count, not census: All Bihar parties reach agreement

Caste 'count', not 'census': All Bihar parties reach agreement

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All parties in Bihar have agreed to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s proposal to conduct a caste-based “count” instead of a caste census to avoid legal tangles.

The CM announced the decision after an all-party meeting in Patna on Wednesday (June 1) evening.

Nitish said that many parties, including the BJP, had expressed reservations on conducting a caste census earlier, but they are now okay with the idea of a caste count. The cabinet will give its nod to the exercise soon, the CM added.

He further said the objective of the caste count is simply to ensure every section of the society gets an opportunity to progress. He said the exercise will be carried in a time-bound manner. RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, who was present at the meeting, said the exercise could be carried out after festival season.

Last August, Nitish led an all-party delegation from Bihar to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and put forth the demand for a caste-based census. Notably, the BJP-led government at the Centre has opposed such a census. It only agrees to count Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) and doesn’t support a full-fledged caste count, arguing that it will damage the country’s social fabric.

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“PM Modi listened to our demand for a caste census and we hope he will consider it. He has not denied our demand so far. We have asked him to take a decision,” Nitish had said then.

On getting an all-party consent for caste count, Nitish said, “It is a crucial issue and we have been seeking this for long. It if works out, that nothing could be better than that. Moreover, it would be not just for Bihar, people in the whole country will benefit from this. It should be done at least once.”

The RJD has been a vocal supporter of caste based census. The party stated that the last caste census in India took place in 1931 and all government policies are framed according to the data back then.

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