RJD extends ‘all support’ to JD(U) for caste census

Opposition party wants to support ruling party on twin demands of caste census and special status for Bihar

The Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Thursday set off speculation in Bihar’s political circles by offering “all possible support” to the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) on a conducting a caste-based census, and demanding special status for Bihar.

In its reaction, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a ruling alliance partner of the JD(U), taking a jibe at the RJD said the party wanted to “come to power through backdoor” but this wasn’t possible.

“The RJD will extend all kinds of support to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the two issues of conducting a caste-based census in the State, and the demand of special status for Bihar. But the BJP, the alliance party of [Chief Minister] Nitish Kumar, has not been supporting him on these issues. Whoever is not supporting his [the CM’s] policies should be discarded but this is the CM’s prerogative,” RJD State president Jagdanand Singh told mediapersons while addressing them at the party’s headquarters in Patna.

Mr. Singh said that, following RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s instructions, “I want to say — wherever there are issues in the interests of Bihar, the RJD will support Nitish Kumar.” He added, “If you [Mr. Kumar] backtrack from these two issues under the BJP’s influence, the people of the State will not forgive you.”

Recently, Mr. Kumar had said that he was still waiting for his alliance partner BJP’s response on conducting caste-based census in the State as all other parties had extended their support to the issue. “Once we get the BJP’s response, we will hold an all-party meeting on the issue to decide the modalities for conducting caste-based census in the State on our own,” Mr. Kumar had said.

Earlier, leaders of ten political parties, including the BJP, had met and requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to conduct caste-based census in the country but later, BJP leaders said it would not be possible as it would create a social rift in society. The Bihar legislature has twice passed resolutions to hold a caste-based census in the State.

BJP leaders hit back at the RJD’s “offer” to support the JD(U) on the caste-based census. “Despite its all-out efforts in last Assembly elections, the RJD could not come to power, so now it wants to come to power through the backdoor but that is not possible as Nitish Kumar is a mature politician,” said BJP leader and the party’s State spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel.

However, JD(U) leader and party MP Sunil Kumar Pintu asked, “What’s wrong with the RJD supporting our party on these two issues? These issues have been our party’s demand for a long time.”

RJD leader and party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari hinted, “After kharwans (considered an inauspicious month) which ends on January 14, there will be some political upheavals in the State.”

Mr. Patel reacted soon with: “Kath ki haandi bar bar chulhe pe nahi chadti hai (a wooden pot is not set on the burner again and again),” suggesting that Mr. Kumar would not go along with the RJD again, as he has in the past.

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