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Bihar parties agree on extending caste census to Muslims: ‘Why exclude anyone?’

Janata Dal (United) national spokesperson K C Tyagi pointed out that the Mandal Commission had “duly identified OBCs among Muslims”. He said, “Let the caste census or survey count all castes and clear claims and counter-claims regarding numbers of each caste group for once and all.”

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: May 27, 2022 6:46:43 pm
The state BJP, which has seen some of its central leaders differ on the issue, also backed the idea.

Ahead of a meeting of 10 parties in Bihar on June 1, all the leading outfits on Friday told The Indian Express that they supported the inclusion of castes in the Muslim community in the state’s proposed caste census.

Janata Dal (United) national spokesperson K C Tyagi pointed out that the Mandal Commission had “duly identified OBCs among Muslims”. He said, “Let the caste census or survey count all castes and clear claims and counter-claims regarding numbers of each caste group for once and all.”

Tyagi added that though there could be questions on the Constitutional validity of such a survey, the state government could use the data in its list for job reservations.

The state BJP, which has seen some of its central leaders differ on the issue, also backed the idea. Bihar BJP president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal said, “Castes among Muslims should be counted as well. When you are giving OBC (Other Backward Classes) and EBC (Extremely Backward Class) reservations (to Muslims), then it should be justified by their numbers as well.”

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A senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said the caste survey should be done along the lines of Telengana’s Samagra Kutumb Survey in which questions were asked on families’ socio-economic status rather than just their caste and numbers.

Jamui MP and Lok Janata Party (Ram Vilas) chief Chirag Paswan said, “We mooted the idea of counting castes among Muslims and other minority groups as we have a federal structure and there are state and central lists. Unless we know the exact number of beneficiaries in a caste group, the benefits of reservation and welfare schemes will not reach them. Now that we are meeting to have our own caste census, let us count them all — castes and sub-castes, irrespective of their religion.”

Asked if the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) wants Muslims to be counted en bloc or caste wise, the party’s national spokesperson Subodh Kumar said, “There is no question of any objection to counting castes among Muslims. Caste has been the biggest socio-economic determinant. We are very much in favour of counting castes and sub-castes among Muslims as well. The Mandal Commission and the Sachar Committee already discussed it and several castes from Muslims have been in central and state lists.”

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Concurring with the other parties, Congress spokesperson Kuntal Krishna said, “Castes among Muslims should be counted. Why exclude anyone?”

Last year, 17 Muslim organisations under the umbrella of the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM) demanded a caste census for minority communities. The umbrella group works for the rights of OBC Muslims. On Friday, former JD(U) MP and AIPMM head Ali Anwar said, “We were the ones who had objected to the RJD and four of its allies talking about counting castes among Hindus. Soon after our objection a few months ago, RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav removed the word ‘Hindu’ and supported the idea of a comprehensive caste census that includes Muslims as well.”

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