Patna: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Sunday called for a state-wise bandh tomorrow to protest against the central government's failure to make public the caste-based census.
Lalu and his supporters earlier in the day fasted at Gandhi Maidan here, where the one-day protest was observed.
The RJD chief, known for his penchant for the dramatic, arrived at the fast venue on a tonga, horse drawn carriages that are being used by his party for campaigning for the Assembly polls.
"We are fasting to expose the Narendra Modi government's anti-poor, anti-Dalit and anti-backward face," Lalu Prasad told reporters here, as per IANS.
He further said that the new data will form the basis for increased reservation for the downtrodden and separate outlays for welfare programmes for them.
"There is a constitutional provision for proportionate reservation for SCs and STs according to their population. At present it is being given on the basis of their population as per the caste census of 1931. When the figures of the new caste census come out, we will demand reservation for them on that basis," Prasad added.
"We know that the new caste census figures are very alarming. The population of SCs and STs has more than tripled since 1931 and the BJP-led central government is trying to suppress it so that it doesn't have to give the poor their rightful due," he said.
ANI quoted Ram Chandra Purve, the state president of the RJD, as saying that the fast was "just a beginning" in the campaign against the Modi government.
Meanwhile, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, who joined him around noon to lend his party's support to the demand for release of caste census figures, said he specially flew from Delhi as his "courageous brother" (Prasad) has launched a struggle against "bad conditions" prevailing in the country.
Elaborating on the "bad conditions", Yadav said the deprived sections of the society, who have given their sweat for the country's development, were leading a miserable existence even after 68 years of independence, while "the dishonest people ruling at the Centre are trying to hide the caste census figures" to deny them their due.
A day after Narendra Modi reached out to Bihar's Yadava voters introducing himself as a native of the land of Lord Krishna, Lalu Prasad hit out at the Prime Minister, calling him "Kaliya Naag", a mythical serpent the Hindu God had slain, and asserting "we will crush him".
"Krishna had slain Kaliya Nag. It has been reborn as Narendra Modi and is biting entire Bihar. We Yaduvanshis (people belonging to the Yadav clan) will crush him again and uproot his party from the state," Prasad told reporters as he began a day-long fast for the release of caste census figures, accusing the Centre of suppressing it.
Modi, at a BJP rally in Muzaffarpur yesterday, sought to reach out to the Yadavas, Lalu's mainstay, by addressing them as "Yadu Bhai" and introduced himself as a native of Lord Krishna's land.
Lalu had earlier said that it was unfortunate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government was not ready to make the data public, and urged the "downtrodden and marginalized" people, Dalits and backward classes to fight for justice and rights.
The caste factor is expected to play a major role yet again in the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls which are likely to be held sometime in September-October.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently released the socio-economic and caste census (SECC) 2011 report, but it did not reflect the details of the various castes in the country.
This has prompted Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to up the ante against the Narendra Modi government by demanding immediate disclosure of the findings on different castes in the 2011 census.
(With Agency inputs)