JD(U) wants Modi government to make caste census public

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (L) with Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh (R) in Patna. File   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

The Janata Dal (United) saw a change in leadership with Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, popularly known as Lalan Singh, taking over as the national president, replacing R.C.P. Singh, who recently was inducted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. At a meeting of the party’s national executive in Delhi on Saturday, the JD(U) took key decisions that could put it on a collision course with its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The party’s national executive decided that a delegation of MPs will meet the PM to press for a caste-based census, a long-standing demand in Bihar.

Drum roll: JD(U) supporters celebrating in Patna after Lalan
Singh took over as the party’s national president.

Drum roll: JD(U) supporters celebrating in Patna after Lalan Singh took over as the party’s national president.   | Photo Credit: PTI


The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2011 undertook a Socio-Economic Caste Census to get data on the caste and economic status of every household in the country. The socio-economic data from the census was made public in 2015, but the caste data was withheld, citing discrepancies. Despite repeated demands, the Centre has refused to divulge the data on caste.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tweeted on July 24: “We believe there should be a caste-based census. The Bihar legislature had unanimously passed a resolution to this effect in February 2019 and again in February 2020 and it was sent to the Central Government. The Centre should reconsider this issue.”

His stand was also backed by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). This could become a bone of contention between JD(U) and its ally, the BJP, with the RJD too jumping into the debate.

Mr. Kumar has been arguing that a detailed caste enumeration will help the State identify the really needy people from among the broad categories. The Centre provides 27% reservation to OBCs (Other Backward Class), whereas in Bihar, OBCs get 12% reservation; EBCs (Economically Backward Class) 18%; and women of Backward Classes get 3% reservation.

The JD(U)’s resolution also urges the Centre to make public the findings of the Justice Rohini Commission constituted on the sub-categorisation of OBCs. The Commission has already been given 10 extensions. With the U.P. Assembly polls round the corner, the Centre is likely to give it another extension.

In the backdrop of a draft Population Control Bill put out in the public domain by U.P.’s Law Commission, the resolution adopted by the JD(U) on Saturday said that while the party supported the mission of population control, it cannot be achieved by bringing in a law. This was a reiteration of Mr. Kumar’s recent comments, when he said that population control can be brought about by improving girls’ education and a law is infructuous in dealing with the problem

The JD(U) has decided to contest in the upcoming U.P. Assembly elections. In 2017, the JD(U) sat out of the U.P. Assembly polls. “Our first priority will be to try and negotiate a seat sharing arrangement with the BJP, but if that is not possible, we will go in alone,” a senior JD(U) leader said.

Sources said that Mr. Kumar will also be meeting Indian National Lok Dal supremo Om Prakash Chautala, who earlier this month completed a 10-year jail term in a corruption case. Mr. Chautala recently said that he was exploring the possibility of forming a third front against the BJP, adding that he would meet “leaders of all political parties opposed to the BJP to stitch a strong third front”, and topple the Union government.

Lalan Singh has been a close aide of Mr. Kumar since the 1980s. The party said that the transition is in keeping with the one-party, one-post principle.

Mr. Kumar had handed over the post of national president to Mr. R.C.P. Singh after being elected for the fourth time as Bihar Chief Minister. Mr. R.C.P. Singh had to hand over the baton after he got inducted into Mr. Modi’s Cabinet.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 4:44:40 PM |

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