The Centre had recently informed Parliament that it was planning to hold a census only for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, triggering demands from Bihar politicians for including OBCs who dominate the state's politics.
Amid growing demand for a caste-based census, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with representatives of all the parties in the state will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 23 to discuss the issue.
Tejashwi Yadav, the leader of opposition in the state assembly, will also be a part of the delegation, Kumar said.
“I had sought an appointment with the PM to meet him along with an all-party delegation from Bihar, including RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, to discuss the issue of a caste-based census. I thank him for giving us time next Monday at 11 am,” Kumar was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The Bihar CM added that the census based on caste will benefit all sections of the society and help in effective governance.
On August 3, Kumar had written to PM Modi, asking for his appointment to discuss the demand for a caste-based census. Last month, leaders of the five-party opposition alliance, led by Yadav, had met Kumar over the issue.
Kumar, however, had asserted that divergent stands adopted by his party and the BJP, which runs the Union government, on the issue would not affect the coalition.
The Centre had recently informed Parliament that it was planning to hold a census only for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, triggering demands from Bihar politicians for including OBCs who dominate the state’s politics.
Kumar had earlier dispelled fears that a census of all castes could lead to social tensions. “When the legislature unanimously passed resolutions in support of a caste-based census on two occasions, members of all parties and from all castes and religions supported it. There should be no misgivings,” he had said.
The bicameral Bihar legislature had unanimously passed resolutions in favour of a caste-based census in 2019 and also in 2020.
Caste-based census other than for SCs and STs has not been undertaken in the country after 1931.
However, the demand for such a census comes up before almost every Census, as records of debates and questions raised in Parliament show. The demand usually comes from among those belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC) and other deprived sections, while sections from the upper castes oppose the idea.
In recent days, besides Nitish Kumar, HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, and RPI leader Ramdas Athawale, such demands have also come from BJP national secretary Pankaja Munde (in a tweet on January 24), and the Maharashtra Assembly which passed a resolution on January 8 urging the Centre to hold a caste-based Census in 2021.
With inputs from PTI
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