6 May 2023

What Is BJP's Concern About Caste Census In Bihar; Why RJD And JDU Are Pushing For It; Is Caste Census Necessary?

Patna: There has been a political dispute in Bihar regarding caste-based census for a long time. JDU and RJD want caste census to be done in the state under any circumstances. With this intention, the Nitish government had also started the census, but after the stay of the Patna High Court, their dreams were dashed. 

However, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav has been claiming that caste census will continue in any case. In such a situation, allegations are being leveled against the BJP that it does not want the census to take place. It is important to know what is going on behind the scenes in this political matter.

Political upheaval has started in Bihar after the High Court's stay on caste census. The round of allegations and counter-allegations has begun. JDU and RJD are constantly attacking BJP in this matter. JDU national president Lalan Singh has directly accused the BJP of obstructing the caste count. He says that the case is of Bihar but a person of Ghaziabad files a petition in the court. The one who has nothing to do with Bihar, is getting worried about a noble cause. Lalan said that the BJP has tried to create hurdles in such works from the very beginning.

80 per cent of work has already been completed: Govt

The first phase of the census was started in January this year when a number of houses were surveyed. The second and crucial phase started last month when people had to disclose their castes. The government has prepared codes for castes. This phase was supposed to conclude by mid-May and according to the government, 80 per cent of the work has already been completed.  

Petitioners told the court that the authority to carry out a census is with the Central Government so the State cannot carry out a caste census in the garb of a survey.  Another petitioner pointed out that the government may be claiming that it is doing a 'survey' but in fact, it is a 'census'. Petitioners also raised the issue of not bringing legislation to carry out the census. Petitioners informed the court that asking about caste is a breach of the right to privacy. 

Why Nitish wants caste census and why BJP is opposed

Nitish believes a caste census will enable a detailed enumeration of OBCs and help identify sections that remain off the government’s social welfare radar or have benefitted less. A caste census will help the state identify those at the bottom of the social and economic ladder and pull them up using proactive measures. For Nitish, ordering the caste census will add another milestone in his long legislative career.

The BJP is apparently wary of a caste census as this can lead to the resurgence of regional parties, which have OBCs (Other Backward Classes) as their core voters. A year before the next Lok Sabha polls, the BJP is unlikely to support such a move. 

Decision taken after brainstorming with all

Lalan Singh said caste census is very beneficial for the people of Bihar. With this thinking, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to conduct the census after consulting all the political parties. Lalan Singh says that some people are unable to digest this noble deed. Sitting behind the scenes, they oppose it and file a PIL in the court. As far as the court's order is concerned, legal opinion is being taken on this, we will do whatever is appropriate.

Why caste census is necessary 

In such a situation, the question arises whether it is only a political issue or caste census is really necessary for public interest. On this, the JDU national president says that if we look at the old history, when the Mandal Commission was implemented in Bihar, a petition was filed in the apex court. 

At that time, the Constitution Bench had directed that the census should be done on the basis of religion and caste. We are also getting caste census done. This is not a census. But political parties are not able to differentiate between caste census and census.

Caste census data should not be leaked

On the petition filed in the Patna High Court to ban caste ecensus  the court stayed the census with immediate effect. In this order dated May 4, the court said that no data of caste census should be leaked. The state's Nitish government has filed another petition against this order.

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