The caste-based census in Bihar, which got underway on January 7, has come under fire from the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party over a host of issues. The Bihar BJP, which had backed the demand for a caste-based survey in the state, has said that the format in which the exercise is being carried out looks “completely flawed” and could potentially “tamper with the citizenship register”.
In an interview with The Indian Express, BJP’s Bihar unit president Sanjay Jaiswal said that the government had kept his party completely out of the loop on the process of the exercise and ignored the threat of counting illegal Bangladeshi migrants as Indian citizens.
“The Bihar format looks completely flawed. Suppose, a Rohingya or Bangladeshi migrant has been living in a hut but hides the information about their nationality, there are chances that they get counted as Indian citizens. That way, you are tampering with the citizenship register. Anybody building a hut and living in Bihar can easily lie to become its citizen in a clandestine way,” Jaiswal said questioning the absence of a mechanism to cross-check information in the caste census in Bihar.
The BJP leader further slammed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for excluding the counting of sub-castes from the exercise and alleged that doing so would “mess up” with the entire quota system, which is based on sub-caste criteria in many cases.
“Will they count Mahapatra as just Brahmin? Similarly, Baniya has several sub-castes. Or, will they treat a Dangi as a Kushwaha or give them an independent status?” Jaiswal asked, adding that the government changed the scope of the survey to just castes a day before the survey began.
“The CM perhaps does not want sub-castes to be counted so that it is not revealed that his own OBC Kurmi sub-caste, Awadhiya, is very small in numbers. The CM is afraid that his politics would get limited to Nalanda alone once sub-castes are counted,” he added.
Jaiswal then mooted the Haryana model, praising it for achieving the purpose without even carrying out a census. ” It has issued two cards — permanent cards to its domiciles, temporary ones to those from other states. It has also issued two cards — Family identity card and Antyodaya card — both with caste details. It seems the best model to extend benefits of government welfare schemes and also to mark the difference between domiciles and non-domiciles,” he said.
Jaiswal further said that the Bihar government is merely carrying out a formality in the name of a caste-based census at a cost of Rs 500 crore. Notably, the BJP had backed the JD(U)-RJD’s demand for a caste-based survey in the state. BJP was also part of the all-party delegation that met the Prime Minister with the demand for a caste survey.