A delegation of leaders from 10 political parties, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Leader of Opposition in Bihar Legislative Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand a caste-based census. Kumar's JD-U, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar, is in favour of a caste-based census. He has been advocating for a caste-based census in the country.
"The Prime Minister listened to all members of the delegation on caste census in the state. We urged the PM to take an appropriate decision on it. We briefed him on how resolutions have been passed twice in the state assembly on caste census," Nitish Kumar told reporters after meeting the Prime Minister at South Block.
"People in Bihar and the entire country are of the same opinion on this issue. We are grateful to the PM for listening to us. Now, he has to take a decision on it," the Chief Minister said. "Caste census will help in formulating development plans effectively."
Tejashwi said that if animals, trees can be counted, so can people. "Caste census will be historic pro-poor measure. Opposition always supported the government for pro-people, pro-nation measures."
"We are awaiting a decision on this now," the RJD leader said.
The debate on the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021 during the recently concluded Monsoon Session of the Parliament saw wide participation with many opposition members raising demands for caste-based census and removing the 50 per cent ceiling on the reservation. The demand for the caste-based census was also made by the Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and several other opposition members. Some BJP allies have also made a similar demand.
The VP Singh government at the Centre implemented the Mandal Commission recommendation of providing reservations for the OBCs in 1990. The last caste census was held in 1931 and Mandal Commission also used that data for its recommendations. With caste-based data, the political parties make their own estimates in states for Lok Sabha and Assembly seats during elections. However, the Central government has so far refused to accede to the demand.
On July 20, in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had said: "The Government of India has decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise populations other than SCs and STs in the census." On March 10, 2021, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had clarified caste-related details received from the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. In a reply, the Union Home Ministry said that raw caste data has been provided to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) for the classification and categorization of the data.
"The Office of the Registrar General, India had provided logistics and technical support in conducting the SECC-2011. The raw caste data has been provided to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) for the classification and categorization of the data. As informed by MoSJE, there is no proposal to release the caste data at this stage," the Home Ministry had said.