PATNA: Unperturbed by the ally BJP’s reservations, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Monday asserted that he would soon convene an all-party meeting to take a decision over the issue of caste census. He also said it would not take a long time in beginning the process for caste-wise headcount in the state.
Nitish said all these in the presence of deputy chief minister Tarkishore Prasad of the ally BJP which central leadership has already turned down the state’s all-party delegation’s demand of conducting caste-based census across the country including Bihar.
‘Zyada der nahi lagega’ (it will not take long). There would not be any too much delay in convening the all-party meeting. Every political party will be asked to give their opinion in the meeting. After the meeting, further steps will be taken for this (caste census). The government will consider the suggestions put up in the all-party meeting and then it will be presented before the state cabinet. I have already given all these information to the leader of opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav when he recently came to meet me over the issue of holding caste-census,” Nitish said while responding to a media query on the sidelines of an event on Buddha Purnima in state capital here on Monday.
Nitish was flanked by his deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad (BJP) and the building construction minister Ashok Choudhary (JD-U) when he spoke in favour of holding the caste-census.
The CM said the work on the caste census would start after the state cabinet’s approval. “Caste census will be done in the proper way. I am already looking internally to ensure that caste-census is conducted properly. Preparations for deputation of officials for this purpose are also being looked into,” Nitish said.
Giving the reasons behind delay in convening the all-party meeting, Nitish said that the all-party meeting could not be held earlier due to covid-19 pandemic, involvement of people in bye-elections, and few other important engagements.
A few days ago, BJP leader and state’s agriculture minister Amrendra Pratap Singh had said that there was no need to conduct a caste census in the state. Earlier, many other state BJP leaders openly spoke against holding the caste-wise headcount in Bihar after the Centre turned down the Bihar government’s demand.
Earlier on August 23 last year, an 11-member delegation from Bihar led by CM Nitish Kumar called on PM Narendra Modi and demanded caste-wise enumeration of population across the country during census-2021. Leaders of all 10 leading political parties which have members in Bihar assembly, were part of the delegation.
The long-pending demand for holding caste-wise census was revived in July, 2021 after the Union government informed in the Lok Sabha that it would not enumerate population caste-wise, except those from the SCs and STs.
Replying to a written query in the Lok Sabha on July 20 last year, Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai (who also hails from Bihar) said that the government of India has decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in census.
Earlier, Bihar assembly had unanimously passed a resolution on February 18, 2019 and again on February 27, 2020; demanding caste-wise enumeration of population. Both the resolutions were sent to the Union ministry of home affairs, and the Union government was requested to hold caste-wise enumeration of population during the census-2021.