Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday mounted a verbal assault on BJP-led NDA government for not releasing socio-economic caste census and questioned the reason behind suppressing the data even as it was compiled on the basis of popular demand.
"What is the the Centre's justification for not releasing the caste data as under the socio-economic caste census when the people want to know about it?" Kumar asked at a press conference on the sidelines of his weekly programme, 'Janata Ke Durbar Mein Mukhyamantri' (CM at People's Court).
"There is a curiosity among the people to know the number of different castes as such census was last carried out in 1931," he said and asked the Centre to immediately release the caste data in deference to the aspirations of the people.
He also asked the Centre to undertake programmes for the development and welfare of those castes which have been lagging for decades.
Accusing the BJP-led central government of committing "fraud" on the people by not going public with the caste data, the Chief Minister charged the saffron party with adopting "double standards" by suppressing the said data even when it has not missed a single opportunity to harp on the caste identity of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for electoral benefits.
"You have no problem highlighting the Prime Minister's caste identity and play out caste politics in general elections, but when it comes to tell the people about their numbers you don't release the data... I don't understand the logic," the Chief Minister said.
BJP president Amit Shah had recently claimed that his party has given the country its first OBC Prime Minister in Narendra Modi apparently, with an eye on consolidation of OBC votes in Bihar Assembly polls later this this year, Kumar said. Stating that the ruling dispensation will not be allowed to get away with suppression of caste data in a democratic country, Nitish Kumar said that the demand will gather momentum with various political parties joining forces to pile up pressure on the Centre to make public the caste census data.
Referring to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad's march to the Raj Bhawan today demanding release of caste data by the Centre, Kumar said that Prasad was fully justified in agitating on the issue as it was important for everyone to know the population of different castes and their socio-economic condition.
On the JD(U)'s stand, the Chief Minister said that he has been demanding every day for release of caste census data and will continue to do so in future.
Asking the BJP to explain its logic behind suppressing caste census data, he said it will put pressure on the government to deliver on its promises for betterment of different caste groups whose numbers have increased significantly over the years.
"The figures of various castes will put pressure on the government to do something for their betterment which it has not done since coming to power 14-15 months back," Kumar added.