Who Said What at Nitish-led Meet With Modi on Caste Census

Who Said What at Nitish-led Meet With Modi on Caste Census

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not deny the demand of a caste census of an all-party delegation from Bihar and has seriously listened to their views on the same during a 45-minute long meeting with them on Monday.

The 11-member delegation led by Kumar met the Prime Minister and univocally asked for a caste census to be conducted. Interesting pictures emerged from outside the Prime Minister’s Office at South Block as bitter adversaries Kumar and the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav were seen talking to each other and standing side-by-side while briefing the media.

Yadav also thanked the Chief Minister for seeking the meeting with PM Modi.

Jitin Ram Manjhi, the HAM leader who is part of the NDA, told PM Modi that it would be part of his legacy if he orders a Caste Census. “The PM has seriously listened to our demands and has not denied our demands. We cannot say yet what decision he will take but we hope he will consider our demand positively,” Kumar said.

Ajit Sharma, a Bihar Congress leader said the PM told the delegation that he will consider the demand and get back to them. Sharma said he hoped a positive decision will come in due course.

Kumar said they had gone to the PM as in the recent Parliament session, the government said it will not conduct a caste census in the future as per a policy decision and this had led to some distress among people. “In this delegation, even the BJP was there and all of us told the PM that we want a caste census,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Yadav said it will be a historic decision if a Caste Census is done and asked why the OBCs not be counted when a Census is done even for animals and trees. “First time all parties of Bihar, including the BJP, have unanimously asked the PM for a Caste Census. We told PM that just one more column on OBCs needs to be added to the Census. The PM has seriously listened to us. Now we are awaiting his decision on this,” Yadav said.

News18 had reported on August 22 that political parties think the Modi government may “announce” close on the heels of the UP elections that it will conduct a caste census “in the near future” in order to blunt a major opposition plank in those polls. While most opposition parties want the Caste Census to be conducted alongside the normal census, the Centre may commit to conducting a caste census after the normal census is over in 2022.

It’s a tricky call for the Narendra Modi government ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections in just six months’ time. The party came to power in the biggest state after a hiatus of 14 years in 2017 on the back of strong support from the OBCs but it also remains committed to its core upper-caste voter in Uttar Pradesh, especially at a time when the construction of the Ram Temple is expected to be a major poll plank in the 2022 elections.

Sensing this, Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party has upped the ante by speaking vociferously on the issue of the caste census in Parliament and his party spreading the refrain in UP that “hum to kiss ginti main aate hi nahi hain” (We OBCs do not come in any count)”. By doing so, Yadav is trying to attract the non-Yadav OBC voter back towards the SP and he has also promised to order a caste census in UP if his party comes to power next year.

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