Caste Census: With RJD’s open support offer to Nitish, will it be ‘Khala Hobe’ in Bihar?
PATNA—Is Bihar headed for “Khela Hobe” drama in near future?
What has triggered this million-dollar question is the warmth with which the ruling Janata Dal United (JD-U) has reacted to the main opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) offer for support over the twin issues of caste-based census and long-pending special category demand for Bihar.
Although the JD-U has been a part of the ruling NDA for the past four years, the BJP has been silent over these two demands being repeatedly raised by its key Bihar ally. Especially, the demand for caste census has turned out to be an albatross around the neck of the chief minister Nitish Kumar who wants it happen at all cost with backwards and extremely backward caste voters forming his main vote-bank.
With the issue having the potential to impact his political fate, the Kumar’s party has kept on raising the issue much to the mysterious silence of the BJP. Recently, an all-party delegation even met the prime minister over the issue but to no avail.
Shocked at the response of the ruling NDA government at the Centre, the main opposition RJD later suggested the chief minister to conduct the caste-based census at its own level for which the chief minister has almost agreed.
However, the chief minister first wanted to hold an all-party meeting over the issue before going ahead with the plan but very strangely, the BJP doesn’t appear to be interested. Only last week, the chief minister expressed his disgust over the way the BJP has kept the issue lingering.
“All parties, except the BJP, have agreed to holding an all-party meeting to decide modalities of a state-specific exercise. The date will be announced once we hear from the BJP,” was how the chief minister told the media.
Perhaps seeking an opportunity in the matter, the RJD has now asked the chief minister to go ahead with the plan ignoring the BJP’s response and even announced to extend its support to his government should the BJP withdraw its support.
“Sack the BJP ministers who are opposing the government. If the issues of special and caste census have any political impact on the Nitish government, the Grand Alliance is there to support it,” state RJD president Jagadanand Singh declared at a Press conference yesterday. He added that the chief minister would not find himself alone if he dumps the BJP which has proved to be a stumbling block on the way of state’s development.
Curiously, the JD-U reacted very warmly to the “support offer” coming from the RJD, triggering political speculations. “The RJD supported the JD-U in the past over the issue of caste census. Now, again the party has lent its full support for which we hugely thank Jagada Babu,” JD-U parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha said.
He asserted that the Nitish Kumar government would conduct the caste census with its own resources if the Union government didn’t do it. “Kahin koi virodh se fark nahin padnewala hai (No matter who opposes it, we will complete the task at our own level),” Kushwaha added.