The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Monday took strong exception to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s allegation that the caste survey had been manipulated to show “inflated” numbers of Yadavs and Muslims.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary told reporters that Mr Shah’s speech at a BJP rally in Muzaffarpur a day ago was bereft of logic and unbecoming of a person holding a responsible post.
“Yadavs are an OBC group, which is a fact known to all. Yet, the home minister claimed that their numbers had been inflated to deny other OBCs of their due. The argument simply does not add up,” Mr Chaudhary asserted.
“Shah should also have disclosed what was the basis of his claim. If he feels the figures of caste survey are inaccurate, then he must be having an idea of what could be the accurate numbers. How did he arrive at such an estimate?” he said.
Mocking Mr Shah’s averment that the BJP had “supported” the decision to hold a caste survey, Mr Chaudhary, who is a senior JD(U) leader, said “they cannot make up their mind”.
“If their contention is that there has been forgery (‘pharjiwada‘) in compilation of data, then are they admitting that they were a party to the fraud?” he said.
Mr Chaudhary also pointed out that the state government took the decision to hold the survey only after the Centre made clear its reluctance for a caste census.
“They (BJP) like to boast they are above casteism. But yesterday, the home minister made an appalling attempt to gain political mileage out of social divisions by explicitly naming communities,” alleged Mr Chaudhary, one of the trusted aides of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The minister was talking to reporters outside the state assembly, after the House was adjourned, on the first day of the winter session, following obituary references.
The House witnessed a bit of a commotion when a proposal was moved by Mehboob Alam, the CPI(ML) Liberation legislature party leader, for condoling the deaths of Gaza civilians in Israeli military operations.
This met with opposition from first-term JD(U) MLA Sanjeev Kumar, who accused the Left leader of being in support of the terrorist group Hamas.
Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, however, did not entertain their exchanges and adjourned the proceedings till Tuesday.
Later, Mr Alam, whose party supports the Nitish Kumar government from outside, told reporters that the JD(U) MLA “lacked knowledge of issues and his views cannot be deemed as the official stand of his party”.
“The Chair did not reject my proposal. It may be taken up later, at an appropriate time. It is stupid to equate concerns over humanitarian crisis in Gaza with support to Hamas,” Mr Alam said.
The CPI(ML) Liberation leader’s views were echoed by Congress legislature party leader Shakil Ahmed Khan, who said “our party stands with the Palestinians’ right to peaceful negotiations and peaceful settlement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is undermining the UN”.
About the proposal of the Left leader, Mr Khan said “it is a matter of compassion (‘samvedana‘). And in such matters, even an ordinary villager of Bihar has the right to express himself”.
Earlier, the CPI(ML) Liberation, which has 12 members in the 243-strong assembly, had reached the Vidhan Sabha premises in a procession, carrying placards with slogans demanding an “immediate end to the genocide in Gaza”, and accusing the Narendra Modi government of “pawning Indian foreign policy in the service of Israel-US interests”.