In a rare instance of political unity, Bihar LoP Tejashwi Yadav accompanied CM Nitish Kumar and other leaders on Monday to meet PM Modi seeking all-India caste census. Addressing the press jointly, Tejashwi Yadav said that the Prime Minister seriously heard their concerns and will take a decision. Highlighting that caste census is needed for the nation's interest, Yadav said that it will benefit all castes.
"For the nation's interest, we came here together. This will be a historic work, if it will be done. Census should benefit all the castes. PM listened to us seriously, we are waiting for the decision now. This is not just for Bihar, but for the entire country," said Yadav. Other leaders present at the meeting included Nitish Kumar, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Mukesh Sahni etc. Even BJP MP Sushil Modi has backed the caste-census decision, but said that the party will abide by PM's decision.
Earlier, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar backed a caste-based census, stating that a caste-based census will help people gain benefits from schemes. He wrote to PM Modi demanding a caste-based census, reminding that the Bihar Assembly passed a resolution in 2019 and February 2020 backing the same. Later, Tejashwi Yadav too wrote to PM Modi demanding the Centre to conduct it to properly enumerate the number of backward caste citizens. Incidentally, Bihar had opposed the detailed National Population Register (NPR) which had demanded details of mother tongue, place of birth etc.
In Parliament, Union Hime Ministry said that the Centre would not be including caste wise data on population other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the national Census. The Ministry, responding in the Lok Sabha, said that the decision has been taken as a matter of policy. While the national census was to be held in 2020, it was postponed due to the onset of COVID-19. The Ministry had earlier informed that the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) was carried out in 2011 and later decided not to update the SECC.
Last year, Odisha joined Maharashtra and Bihar to become the third State to request to collect caste details in the forthcoming Census. The Odisha government wrote to the Centre urging for holding enumeration of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) along with the general census in 2021. Justifying the request, the state had claimed that no formal census including caste details of the population has been undertaken since 1931.The state government informed that the data regarding the SEBC and OBC population would help in taking up focussed planning for these communities.