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JD(U) thanks Nitish for caste census, miffed BJP claims equal credit

Party leaders and workers across the state took out an "Aabhar Yatra" in all districts Saturday to thank Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Janata Dal United (JDU) supporters during 'Abhar Yatra' on the caste census, in Patna. (PTI)

In an effort to outwit ally BJP and take the credit for the caste census to be conducted in Bihar, Janata Dal (United) leaders and workers across the state took out an “Aabhar Yatra” in all districts on Saturday to thank Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for taking the lead in giving the go-ahead to caste census.

Reacting sharply, the state BJP said the saffron party also played a “crucial role” in the decision “as a senior NDA alliance partner”.

The JD(U) took out rallies in all 38 district headquarters of the state with banners and posters to thank Nitish. The one-day yatra is being seen as a deft move by JD(U) to take credit for holding the caste census — the process has to be completed by February 2023.

The yatra continued for three to four hours in each district, with JD(U) workers shouting slogans such as “Nitish Kumar zindabad” and “Jatiya janganana puray desh mein karwana hoga (caste census should be carried out across the country)”.

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Each rally was led by the party district president concerned.

JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told The Sunday Express that the rally is a way to thank Nitish Kumar for taking the “lead in ensuring that Bihar has its own caste census”. “Right from leading an all-party delegation to calling an all-party meet, Nitish Kumar played a key role. The state Cabinet gave the nod to it within 24 hours of unanimous decision of all Bihar parties to have a caste census conducted in the state,” Neeraj Kumar said.

“People need to know this, and JD(U) workers felt a sense of obligation towards our leader, Nitish Kumar,” he added.

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BJP spokesperson and national general secretary of the party’s OBC Morcha, Nikhil Anand, said: “The counting of castes in Bihar is a collective decision of the state cabinet, and the BJP played a crucial role in it. It is not the individual decision of anyone or any party…. UPA allies were responsible for sabotaging the 2011 caste census, for which they must apologise. We never opposed caste census in toto but we are concerned about the modalities.

Asked why BJP as the senior NDA ally was not part of this Aabhar yatra, Neeraj Kumar said, “It was JD(U)’s programme. Besides, there was no such proposal from the BJP.”

The JD(U) MLC said that caste census would give clarity with its data to formulate plans and policies.

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BJP’s Anand said, “The Centre has paved the way for caste counting as well as categorisation of caste by states after the 127th constitutional amendment. We thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this crucial decision empowering states.”

First published on: 25-06-2022 at 09:50:55 pm
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