‘Demand for caste census driven by social concerns, not political’

Patna, Aug 09 (PTI):
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asserted that his strong pitch for a caste-based census was driven by social , and not political , concerns. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of his weekly public interaction programme here, Kumar, who is the de facto leader of the Janata Dal (United), also disclosed that his letter seeking an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been dispatched last week and a response to the same was awaited.
I have learnt that my letter had reached the Prime Minister’s Office on August 4. I am looking forward to a response , said Kumar. He had expressed agreement to suggestions that he should meet Modi heading a delegation comprising leaders of all parties in the state.
It is not a political issue. It is a social issue. A reason why the demand (for caste census) has found resonance in many states. The reason why we have agreed to an all-party delegation is that in Bihar there is unanimity on the issue. Resolutions to the effect have been passed in the legislature unanimously twice, he said.
Fresh demands for caste census have been triggered by a statement by the Centre in Parliament recently that an exercise to ascertain the population of only SCs and STs was under consideration.
This has led to a churn in the politics of Bihar where most prominent political leaders, including Kumar and his arch-rival Lalu Prasad, belong to the numerically powerful OBCs. Prasad’s RJD is, predictably, as much in favour of the census making a headcount of castes other than SCs and STs as Kumar. The BJP, which has, on the state level, in the past seconded the demand, now seems to be equivocal in view of a different stance adopted by its top leadership.

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