Caste Census: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar finally gets time to meet PM Modi
PATNA—After waiting for a full fortnight, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has finally got time to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of holding caste census in a much relief to JD-U leader. The chief minister will be meeting the PM on August 23.
However, he will not meet the PM alone; rather he will lead an all-party delegation, including the main opposition RJD which has been constantly supporting the chief minister over the issue of caste census.
“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,” the CM told reporters on Thursday.
Recently during the monsoon session of the state legislature, Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav had called on the chief minister to seek appointment from the PM and even suggested him to conduct caste census on his own if the Centre rejected his demand. Subsequently, the chief minister wrote a letter to the PM on 3 August, seeking appointment but he failed to get any response.
At one point of time, the chief minister appeared very upset for his appeal getting constantly ignored. “My letter reached the PMO on 4 August itself but I am yet to get a response in this regard. We want holding of caste census but this all depends on the Centre,” the chief minister told the media on 9 August on the sidelines of his weekly Junta Durbar.
But now that he got the appointment, he is feeling more relaxed. As such, questions were being constantly raised over Kumar’s equation with the Prime Minister the way the latter kept on delaying him granting appointment.
What brought discomfort to the chief minister, sources said, was the way the PM had during the same period granted appointments to two opposition chief ministers, such as West Bengal chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee and Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh.
Not only these two bigwigs, even smaller leaders like Santosh Kumar Suman, a minister in Nitish Kumar government and son of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and chairman of Bihar Legislative Council Awadhesh Narayan Singh even were able to meet the PM. While Suman met on 4 August, Singh had a courtesy meeting with the PM on Wednesday.
Notably, the Centre had recently informed Parliament that it was thinking of holding a census only for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, triggering vehement demand in Bihar that the same must include OBCs who dominate the state’s politics.
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.