Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday expressed annoyance over opposition, from some quarters, to the headcount of castes being conducted by his government in the state.
Kumar, the state’s longest-serving CM, was replying to questions from journalists on a petition in the Patna High Court challenging the caste survey, on which arguments from both sides have concluded and an order was awaited.
“The petitioners as well as the government have made their respective submissions. Now we are looking forward to the verdict,” said Kumar who ordered the survey, after repeated requests to the Centre for undertaking a headcount of all castes as part of the census were turned down.
“But I cannot understand, why people have a problem with the survey. The last time a headcount was done was way back in 1931. We certainly have a fresh estimate. After all, the census takes into account respective populations of minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes every ten years,” he added.
“Unfortunately, and for reasons hard to fathom, even the census seems to be hanging fire,” pointed out the JD(U) leader, referring to the census that was due in 2021, but got delayed on account of the pandemic.
Kumar said the caste survey was ordered in the state after taking all political groups into confidence.
“Resolutions in favour of the caste census were passed, twice, unanimously, in both Houses of the state legislature. Representatives of all parties had joined me in making a formal request to the prime minister,” he recalled.
“After they (the Centre) declined, we decided to undertake an exercise limited to the state. That decision, too, was taken at a meeting where representatives of all the nine political parties, which have members in the legislature, were present,” said Kumar.
He reiterated that the exercise, once complete, would be “beneficial to all” and claimed that barring a few exceptions, “all people in the state were in favour”.
Notably, the petition before the high court has been filed by a social outfit and some individuals, who had last month moved the Supreme Court after their request for an ‘interim relief’ in the form of a stay on the survey was turned down.
The apex court, too, refused to interfere, and referred them back to the high court with directions that their petition be decided expeditiously.
Replying to a query on his Goa counterpart Pramod Sawant’s controversial statement about migrants, the Bihar CM voiced disapproval.
Turning towards his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, Kumar said, “He and many other political leaders in Bihar have registered their protest. I do not wish to add much except that people should refrain from uttering such things.” Sawant had blamed migrant workers from Bihar for “90 per cent of crimes” taking place in the coastal state.
While the BJP, which is in power in Goa, has defended Sawant, blaming the Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar for the “image problem”, parties in the ruling coalition have decried the remark and a local leader of the Chief Minister’s JD(U) has even lodged a complaint before a court here.