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Caste-based census: Tejashwi gives ultimatum to Nitish govt to clarify stand

Patna: Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday gave an ultimatum of 72 hours to the Nitish Kumar government to clear its stand on the caste-based census in the state, otherwise his RJD would hit the streets for its implementation.

Tejashwi Yadav had on Monday announced that he would start padyatra from Patna to Delhi on this issue.

“We cannot tolerate this issue any longer. The state government should clear its stand on a caste-based census. Nitish Kumar government should call a cabinet meeting and take a decision. If the state government would not take a decision in the given time of 72 hours, we have no option other than to hit the roads. A resolution for caste-based census has already passed twice by the Vidhan Sabha and the Vidhan Parishad,” he said.

“I have already said that if we do not have any option, we will do a padyatra from Patna to Delhi on this issue,” he said.

An all-party delegation, headed by Nitish Kumar, had already met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this issue. However, the Centre had expressed its inability to conduct a caste-based census in the country, but said that state governments are independent to conduct caste-based census on their own in their respective states.

“Following that development, we were given assurance for the all-party meeting on the same but that meeting never happened. In spite of some states conducting caste-based census in their states, Bihar government is deliberately delaying this issue,” Tejashwi Yadav alleged.

“The Chief Minister should talk to the leaders of all parties in Bihar and clear his stand about when he would start caste based census in the state. Give us a specific time… if he wants to conduct a caste-based census in Bihar,” he said.

“We would take time from the Chief Minister to discuss this issue. We will not come under the influence of the Chief Minister. CM Nitish Kumar is the face of NDA in Bihar, I don’t know how people of the state are enduring him. The Bihar government is running from Nagpur (RSS HQs). We will force them to conduct a caste-based census at any cost,” he added.

“At present, they (NDA) are doing divisive and tension politics in the country to divert attention from the real issues like price rise of fuel and commodities, migration, unemployment, poverty, caste based census, special status of Bihar. Hence, they are raising issues like temple, mosque, loudspeaker and bulldozers. We are in the opposition and we have the responsibility to raise the issues related to the common people of Bihar,” he said.

Former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi also expressed his view in favour of conducting the caste- based census in Bihar.

“If the government of Madhya Pradesh would conduct a census of donkeys, why would we not conduct a census of humans in Bihar,” he asked, citing a newspaper report that said Madhya Pradesh has 8,135 donkeys including 747 in Gwalior, 739 in Chattarpur, 538 in Datia, 498 in Morena, and 498 in Guna.

On the other hand, JD-U minister Lesi Singh said: “CM Nitish Kumar is an optimistic person. He will make decisions at the right time.”

Health Minister Mangal Pandey, of the BJP, said: “When the RJD was defeated in the 2020 Assembly election, RJD leaders announced several yatras which never happened. Leader of the Opposition is saying the same again. Let’s see what he do.”