Bihar Caste Census to Start on January 7
Patna: The much-awaited caste census in Bihar would start from Saturday much to the opposition BJP’s discomfiture. Several senior BJP leaders, including former ministers, have publicly voiced opposition to the census in the state.
After the Centre ruled out such a census in the country two years ago, the Nitish Kumar government decided to conduct it in Bihar. The census was expected after chief minister (CM) Kumar dumped the BJP and joined hands with the RJD, Congress and Left parties to form the Mahagathbandhan last August.
The two-phased census will help the grand coalition consolidate its social support base by fulfilling a major promise to OBCs and EBCs. Both Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD are pro-Mandal and have been demanding a caste census in Bihar, where caste plays a decisive role in politics.
According to the CM Office, thousands of officials would count the number of households in all 38 districts in the first phase and gather information about the caste and socioeconomic profile of the occupants by this month-end. In the second phase, data on all castes, subcastes and religions would be collected in March. Finally, the information would be uploaded on the government’s official website.
More than five lakh employees, including senior government officers, clerks, contractual school teachers, MGNREGA and Anganwadi workers and ASHAs, would be engaged to cover the estimated population of 12.70 crore staying in around 2.58 crore households in urban and rural areas across the state, as per the general administration department.
The state cabinet had approved the plan for a caste census last June following an all-party meeting that voiced support for it. The Assembly had already passed a unanimous resolution for conducting a caste census in February 2019 and sent it to the Centre in February 2020.
Sensing political fortunes, Lalu, who belongs to the powerful OBC caste Yadav, had consistently demanded such a census. Since 2015, he has been demanding that caste data from the 2011 Census be made public to “ensure the empowerment of those lagging in development”.
The Centre made the 2011 Census public only in 2015 but withheld the caste-based data saying that it was concerned only with the socioeconomic figures, which would help in the effective implementation of its programmes.
Kumar, who belongs to the agrarian OBC caste Kurmi, had repeatedly said that a caste census should, at least, be conducted once which would help in ascertaining the number of people belonging to different poor and marginalised castes in different regions. The last caste census was conducted in 1931.
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