JD(U) insists on census for OBCs, a day after Centre said 'only' for Dalits

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Patna, Jul 21 (PTI) A day after the Centre told Parliament that an exercise to ascertain the population of 'only SCs and STs' was being proposed, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U) on Wednesday insisted that the same should be conducted for Other Backward Classes (OBC) as well.

A statement to this effect was made by JD(U)s parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha, a former union minister himself who has been a strong votary of affirmative action, seeking introduction of quotas even in the judiciary.

'It is essential to get an exact idea of OBC's population. Even the Supreme Court has expressed such an opinion. Findings of exercises conducted to this end in the past should be made public. Besides, regular census must be conducted caste-wise, Kushwaha told reporters here.

He was responding to queries about the submission, about SC/ST census, made by Union minister of state for Home Nityanand Rai in the Lok Sabha on the previous day.

Notably, caste-based census has been a demand, raised time to time, by most of the OBC politicians in Bihar who owe their rise to the churning of the 1990s that followed implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations.

Not surprisingly, arch rivals like Nitish Kumar and his arch rival Lalu Prasad, who heads the Rashtriya Janata Dal, are also on the same page on the issue.

The JD(U)s stance also marks another point of ideological divergence with the BJP its ally at the centre and in the state, which derives its considerable support from the upper castes as well.

Kushwaha was also asked about speculations in a section of the media that Prasads younger son Tejashwi Yadav is all set to take over as the next national president.

'I do not think it is going to make much of a difference. In any case, he (Tejashwi) has been calling the shots in the RJD for quite some time', said Kushwaha, who was with the RJD-led Grand Alliance until the assembly elections last year.

He was also asked about the JD(U)s national executive meeting scheduled on July 31 and speculations that he was being considered for a 'big responsibility' in the wake of party president RCP Singhs induction into the Union cabinet.

'I am not carrying a small responsibility even now. I am devoting myself to help the JD(U) regain its numeo uno status in the politics of the state', Kushwaha , who had merged his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party into the JD(U) a few months ago, shot back.

A former protg of Nitish Kumar, Kushwaha had parted ways with his mentor in 2013 to float his own outfit.

His RLSP contested the Lok Sabha polls a year later as an ally of the NDA, which Kumar had quit, and was appointed to the Union council of ministers.

He remained bitterly opposed to Kumar whose return to the NDA in 2017 seemed to have not gone down well with the RLSP chief who walked out of the alliance, giving up his ministerial berth, a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

His re-induction into the JD(U), notwithstanding Kumars reputation as someone who does not forgive past insults, is being seen as the chief ministers attempt to consolidate his 'Kurmi-Koeri' base at a time when his party has lost the upper hand to the BJP. PTI NAC SNS SNS

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