Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav slammed the leaders of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in Opposition in the state, for criticising the caste survey and implying that the survey data was manipulated to suit his party, the RJD.
In a sharply worded counter, Tejashwi Yadav said that had the figures been altered, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would have increased the proportion of his caste.
The BJP claimed that the caste survey data was altered only to spread confusion, Mr Yadav said at an event of his party in Bihar’s Saharsa.
“Instead of thanking Nitish Kumar, you’re trying to find faults (with the caste survey). If we wanted to manipulate data, Nitish Kumar would have exaggerated the numbers of his own caste. Please ask the Centre to conduct a caste survey if you have any doubts,” he said.
“Yadavs were 11 per cent of the total population in 1931 when Odisha and Jharkhand were also a part of Bihar. Nearly a century later, they are said to be at 14 per cent. What is so irregular in that?” Mr Yadav said.
“These leaders speak without any information. They feel if they oppose us, Modi ji will be happy and give them tickets,” he said.
The survey shows Kurmis, to which Nitish Kumar belongs, as less than three per cent of the state’s population.
“We are thankful to the Chief Minister for the initiative that is going to set the trend for the nation. Ashok Gehlot has passed it in Rajasthan, while Bhupesh Baghel has announced it in Chhattisgarh. Karnataka has also announced. Remember, how the BJP tried to hinder the process? The party didn’t want such a survey to be conducted. The BJP should remember that we had to undertake the exercise only because of the stubborn refusal of the Narendra Modi government to hold a caste survey for the whole country.
“If Chirag Paswan has a problem with the survey, if Jitan Ram Manjhi has a problem, if the BJP has a problem, why don’t they get a survey done? After all, it is the BJP in power at the Centre,” he said to rousing cheers from the crowd.
Bihar has become the first state to release data from a caste-based survey. The report indicates that 36 per cent of the population is from the Extremely Backward Classes, 27.1 per cent are from the Backward Classes, 19.7 per cent are from the Scheduled Castes and 1.7 per cent are from the Scheduled Tribes.
The general population is at 15.5 per cent. The state’s total population is over 13.1 crore.