Sharing his views following the Supreme Court judgment on 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections (EWS), Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday sought the removal of 50 per cent cap on reservations and a country-wide caste census.
The apex court on Monday upheld the 10 per cent reservation to EWS persons in education and government jobs. It was a 3:2 verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment.
“What the Supreme Court ruled was fair enough. We were always in support of the quota. But it is high time the limit of 50 per cent is raised. The cap is depriving OBCs and EBCs of opportunities in proportion to their population,” Kumar told journalists in Patna. Kumar is an OBC leader who owes his rise in politics to the churning brought about by the Mandal Commission.
“Speaking RJD’s language”
The JD(U) leader also reiterated the need for a fresh estimate of the respective populations of various social groups. He said he took it up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.
“We were told that states could hold such headcounts. We have undertaken that exercise. But it needs to be done on the national level as well. There must be a rethink on the issue of caste census,” said Kumar.
The BJP, a former ally of the JD(U), lashed out at Kumar. “The honourable chief minister is obviously unhappy over poor upper castes getting their due. He is speaking the language of its current ally RJD,” alleged BJP spokesperson Arvind Kumar Singh.
“If you want the 50 per cent cap raised, do what is needed in Bihar, according to constitutional norms. We will welcome it,” Singh added.
Notably, among the current crop of political leaders in Bihar, RJD president Lalu Prasad was the first to demand the removal of the cap. Kumar has now aligned with the RJD after dumping the BJP three months ago.
(With agency inputs)