PM Modi has to take call on caste census: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

On Monday, an all-party delegation led by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar met PM Modi with a demand to hold a caste census to know the exact number of OBCs. “The leaders of 10 parties from Bihar have come together and we reiterated our demand before the PM to hold the caste census for once to know the exact number of different castes,” Nitish Kumar told ET. “This is not about parties from Bihar. If you ask, everyone in this country wants the caste census to be held.” Kumar said the PM gave a patient hearing to their demands and he is hopeful that something will be done. “He (PM) didn’t say no. Now, it is up to him to take a decision.”

Leader of the opposition in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, was also at the meeting. “The demand for caste census is not about Bihar only. It is for the entire country. It is the need of the hour,” Tejashwi Yadav told ET.

The delegation comprised 11 leaders from 10 different parties. Apart from JD(U) and RJD, BJP leader Janak Ram, Congress leader Ajit Sharma, HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, VIP leader Mukesh Sahni, AIMIM leader Akhtarul Iman, CPI (ML) leader Mehboob Alam and Left parties leaders Ajay Kumar and Suryakant Paswan were present at the meeting.

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According to sources, BJP leader and Bihar minister Janak Ram told the PM that everyone in Bihar was hopeful that this exercise would be done. He said there was an atmosphere of hopelessness after the government replied in Parliament that there was no plan for a caste census. After the meeting, Ram told media persons that the PM listened to everyone like a guardian and whatever he decides should be accepted by all the parties.

Vijay Chaudhary, JDU leader and Bihar minister, raised the issue of the Justice Rohini Commission for sub-categorisation of OBCs, before the PM. The PM said that the report was yet to come. However, Chaudhary replied that without a caste census, the report would not be able to do justice to the backward castes.

On the question of caste census being done by the state government, Nitish Kumar said, “Today, we have met the PM. Right now, we will wait for his decision.”

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Tejashwi Yadav also said that his party would wait for what the PM decides. “The census process has not yet started. We will wait and see. If it doesn’t happen, then our struggle for a caste census shall continue and we will decide the future course of action,” Tejashwi told ET.

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