Congress says it backs Nitish on caste census

The State’s OBCs are hopeful of gains from the census

The Congress in Bihar on Sunday asserted that it supported Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the issue of caste census and urged him to hold a State-specific exercise without waiting for a nod from his ally BJP.

Congress Legislature Party leader Ajeet Sharma’s statement came close on the heels of Lalu Prasad’s RJD, the principal opposition party in the state, which adopted a similar stance.

“The Chief Minister wants to convene an all-party meeting… apparently the BJP does not want to be seen on the same page…Let Nitish Kumar go ahead, the Congress is fully with him on the issue”, Mr. Sharma said.

The State BJP has in the past backed a caste census with its MLAs voting in favour of resolutions passed twice, unanimously, by the legislature.

The party finds itself in a bind after the Narendra Modi government turned down demands for conducting a headcount of social groups other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

A meeting between the Prime Minister and an all-party delegation from Bihar headed by the Chief Minister failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Politics in Bihar has for decades been dominated by the numerically powerful Other Backward Classes, who are hopeful of gains in the event of an exercise that might confirm that their percentage in the population is far greater than 27 percent — their quota earmarked following the Mandal Commission’s implementation. In the wake of the Centre’s lukewarm response, Mr. Kumar has planned to conduct a State-specific survey.

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