West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government will support a countrywide caste-based census, provided all political parties reach a consensus on the issue. She also clarified that she does not have a problem in accepting a caste-based census.
Notably, Banerjee’s assurance came after a 10-party delegation from Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to push for a caste-based census. The caste-based census has not taken place in the country since British rule.
What Mamata Banerjee said
She said, “If a consensus is reached, I will not have any problem accepting it. If all parties accept it, why would not I? Let political parties, the chief ministers, and the Central government reach a consensus.”
The chief minister declined to elaborate on the issue, saying that sentiments differ from one state to the other. The chief minister said, “Nitish ji has put up his questions on this issue. Let us see how others react to it.”
BJP yet to take a stand
Statistics about different castes will help in formulating development schemes effectively as many of them have not benefitted so far in line with their actual population, the Bihar CM has said. The BJP leadership has so far not taken a categorical stand on the issue which has been lapped up by several regional parties, many of them its rivals in different states.
With census being the Union’s prerogative, it is now up to the Centre to take a call on the demand. There is a view that a caste census will bring the Mandal politics to the centre stage of politics and can be an effective weapon in the hands of regional parties to counter the BJP’s Hindutva and welfare planks, the twin issues used by the saffron party to make inroads into the OBC vote bank at the expense of state-based parties.
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