On Wednesday, Bihar Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said that all parties, including the BJP, have given their consent for the meeting on a caste-based census to be held on June 1 in Patna.
"All parties agree (on caste-based census in Bihar). I've said that talks have been held with all parties and they've agreed for all-party meeting on 1st June. We hope that people of all parties will come. As far as BJP is concerned, they've not opposed it," Chaudhury told ANI.
On Monday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar signalled that an all-party meeting to take everyone’s views on carrying out a caste-based census could be convened on May 27, if all the parties agreed to the proposed date.
Nitish has called an all-party meeting over the weekend in Patna, appearing determined to get the state cabinet’s nod to undertake a caste census in Bihar.
The JDU boss’s fresh drive on the tricky matter has come after the Centre’s refusal to conduct a countrywide caste census and just ahead of the President’s election, putting the BJP in a bind.
BJP has made major inroads among OBCs in north India; however, their support base among upper castes is much more solid, with OBC voters fluctuating in their choices in national and state polls.
A caste census would show greater numbers of OBCs and a reduced population of upper castes and could potentially be the trigger for demanding that the 50 per cent cap on reservation be lifted.
Chaudhary said that the Bihar legislative assembly has already twice passed the resolution in 2019 and 2020 to conduct the exercise. The resolutions were also sent to the Centre to include the caste census in the 2021 general census exercise, he added.
He said that the Centre, however, expressed its inability to include caste census in the 2021 general census, on the ground that household survey was already completed and it was not possible to change the countrywide exercise mid-way.