Patna: After Bharatiya Janata Partry (BJP) leaders tried to counter their ally Nitish Kumar’s demand for a caste-based census exercise in 2021, by demanding a population control law in the state, the Bihar’s chief minister on Tuesday categorically ruled out any need for a population control law.
“There is no need for a population control law in Bihar. If a state enacts a population control law and implements it, we are not concerned. But we won’t have anything like that,” Nitish Kumar said here, referring to a demand for a population control law made by his cabinet colleague Neeraj Kumar Bablu, a senior BJP leader.
The Chief Minister reiterated that instead of a law to control the population, what was needed was an awareness campaign, adding that laws alone cannot help control the population.
“What other people say and do, we don’t care. Our position is clear, that an awareness campaign will work for population control rather than a law”.
The Chief Minister, who also heads the Janata Dal (United), claimed that by using awareness raising, Bihar had controlled its rate of population growth. The reproduction rate has increased from 5% to 4%, thanks to awareness strategies. In the next five years, the reproduction rate will drop to 2% thanks to state awareness, he added.
Also last month, Nitish Kumar came out strongly in support of a population control awareness campaign. He then asserted that the reproduction rate actually drops once women are educated. Bihar has experimented with this by promoting female education and has succeeded, he said.
Over the past month, a string of BJP leaders, including ministers, MPs and MLCs, have advocated for a population control law in Bihar on the model of neighboring Uttar Pradesh, where the Yogi Adityanath government led by the BJP has prepared a bill. population control bill.
Incidentally, the UP bill has drawn widespread criticism for being harsh on women, especially the poor and marginalized, as this can lead to their disenfranchisement and also expose them to poor health, social stigma and violence.
However, the chorus of BJP leaders in Bihar is widely seen as part of the saffron party’s strategy to counter the attempt by Nitish Kumar and his JD-U party to demand a caste-based census.
“Nitish has no choice but to stick to his demand as the BJP has already weakened him and is trying to damage his image. His social support base comes from OBCs, EBCs and Dalits” said political commentator DM Diwakar, former director of the AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna.
However, Nitish Kumar seems adamant on his demand for a caste-based census and has publicly opposed his ally, the BJP’s attempt to counter it by proposing a population control law.
In a bid to send a political message on his demand for a caste-based census, the chief minister said on Monday he had yet to receive a response to his letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an appointment On the question.
“I had written a letter which was received by the PMO on April 4. But the answer has not yet come. I had also requested an appointment with the Prime Minister to have a meeting with the delegation of the political parties of Bihar”, he said.
Nitish Kumar’s insistence on a caste-based census is widely seen as a response to the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)’s aggressive stance against the Centre’s decision not to embark on such an exercise. Nitish Kumar’s JD-U and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD have been ‘pro-Mandal’ and caste-based census is an old demand reiterated by both sides.
Last month, Union State Minister for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha that the government had decided not to conduct a caste-based census other than the usual enumeration of the population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Rai, a senior BJP leader from Bihar, who belongs to a powerful OBC (Other Backward Classes) community, appears to be toeing the line of the BJP-led central government, which seeks to dilute the problem in Bihar, which is known to be a dominated state. by the castes.
Notably, in the past fortnight, Nitish Kumar has aired his differences with the BJP on three issues – the caste-based census, the Pegasus spyware issue and population control – creating a buzz in circles policies here.
Last month, the new JD-U National Chairman, Lalan Singh, considered close to Nitish Kumar, met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and demanded a caste-based census. Singh had made it clear to the BJP that his party would not back down on its demand for a caste-based census.
Nitish Kumar, who belongs to an OBC agrarian community, the Kurmis, said a caste-based census exercise should be carried out at least once. This would help to know the number of people belonging to different poor and marginalized castes in different regions, he said. The last caste census was carried out in 1931 before India’s independence from the British.
The CM recalled that the Legislative Assembly of Bihar passed a unanimous resolution for conducting a caste-based census in February 2019 and February 2020, consecutively, and sent it to the Centre. Notably, the BJP and JD-U had backed a resolution calling for a caste-based census in 2020. However, the BJP doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about it.