Nitish Kumar piqued over opposition to caste headcount in Bihar

Nitish Kumar piqued over opposition to caste headcount in Bihar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday (May 4) expressed his annoyance over opposition from some sections to the caste headcount being conducted by his government.

Nitish was replying to questions from the media over a petition in the Patna high court challenging the caste survey. “The petitioners as well as the government have made their submissions. Now we are looking forward to the verdict,” he said.

Nitish ordered the survey after requests to the Centre for undertaking a headcount of all castes as part of the census were turned down.

He told the media, “But I cannot understand why people have a problem with the survey. The last time a headcount was done was way back in 1931. We certainly have a fresh estimate.”

Also read: Conducting caste-based survey no crime, says Bihar CM

Census survey

“After all, the census takes into account populations of minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes every 10 years,” he added.

“Unfortunately, and for reasons hard to fathom, even the census seems to be hanging fire,” he pointed out, referring to the exercise that was due in 2021 but got delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Nitish said the caste survey was ordered in the state after taking all political groups into confidence. “Resolutions in favour of the caste census were passed, twice, unanimously, in both Houses of the state legislature. Representatives of all parties had joined me in making a formal request to the prime minister,” he recalled.

“After they (the Centre) declined, we decided to undertake an exercise limited to the state. That decision, too, was taken at a meeting where representatives of all the nine political parties … in the legislature were present.”

The chief minister said the exercise would be “beneficial to all” and claimed that barring a few exceptions, “all people in the state were in favour”.

Also read: Third gender denoted as a caste in Bihar’s caste-based headcount survey triggering a row

Court petition

The petition in the high court has been filed by a social outfit and some individuals who last month moved the Supreme Court after their request for an interim relief in the form of a stay on the survey was rejected. The apex court refused to interfere, and referred them back to the high court.

Asked to comment on Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant’s statement that migrant workers from Bihar were to blame for “90 per cent of crimes” in the coastal state, Nitish voiced disapproval.

Turning towards his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, he said: “He and many other political leaders in Bihar have registered their protest. I do not wish to add much except that people should refrain from uttering such things.”

(With agency inputs)

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