All parties in Bihar except the BJP have demanded a count of caste numbers in the 2021 census. While the central government has so far refused to accede to the demand, some BJP leaders including Bihar Deputy CM Renu Devi have backed the caste census.
The opposition RJD has questioned the government's decision as the previous solar light scheme was marred with corruption charges being levelled against mukhiyas and other panchayat-level representatives.
On July 22, Bihar midday meal director Satish Chandra Jha had issued an order asking each district programme officer to have empty gunny bags sold at a rate of Rs 10 per piece, and to deposit the amount with the government.
Officials blame it on “technical issues with the National Scholarship Portal” but are unable to explain why this has not been sorted out in three years, and why other states, including neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, have done exceedingly well in providing benefits of this scheme to SC/ST students.
An ex gratia policy probably puts some public pressure on the political executive to take note of grievances, and also incentivises people to get themselves tested or admitted, if at all, only to get a Covid-19 positive report.
The remarks come a day after JD(U) MPs met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi to discuss the demand for a caste census and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said in Patna that he is ready to lead an all-party delegation to meet the Prime Minister over the issue.
Party sources told The Indian Express that the names of Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, JD(U)’s parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha and of spokesperson K C Tyagi are in contention for the post of national president.
On March 18, 1999, 34 upper caste men were forced out of their homes in Senari village of Jehanabad district allegedly by cadres of the now defunct Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), and slaughtered near the village temple.
Nitish was responding to media queries at Janata Durbar which resumed after five-and-a-half years -- the government had been facing the Opposition’s criticism for not interacting with people, especially during the pandemic. The CM said he will now meet people on three Mondays every month.
Former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha’s tour -- an official party outreach -- is an ostensible bid to nurture a second line of leadership in the JD(U) and is also being touted as a silent battle of succession between Singh and Kushwaha.
RCP Singh will always be the frontrunner for succeeding Nitish Kumar along with former Union minister and JD (U) parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha. While RCP Singh lacks a mass-base, he is considered a deft strategist and Nitish's second-in-command.
R C P Singh's caste status – OBC Kurmi – may have played a vital role in his induction, party leaders said, as the BJP might be sending out a signal to the Kurmi/Patel communities ahead of next year's Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.