Sunday, 19 July,Lucknow : Pitching for a comprehensive classification of caste data before its release, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday said once in public domain it will hit leaders like Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar the most.
Paswan, Lok Janshakti Party chief, also claimed the Extremely Backward Castes among the OBCs have shifted allegiance to the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself belongs to EBC.
“LJP’s demand is that even if there is some delay, the government should make the caste data public only after its thorough classification. The categorisation will take time but when it is out, those who are making the maximum noise over it will be hit the hardest,” he said.
Bihar’s JD(U) Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who have stitched up an alliance for the state Assembly polls, have been insisting on the data being released immediately.
Parties like Samajwadi Party, JD(U), RJD and DMK have criticised the Centre for not releasing the caste-based data in the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), the first in eight decades since 1912.
The government on Thursday set up an expert group headed by NITI Ayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya to collate caste count and blamed the states for not being able to complete the consolidation of different categories.
“Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, who have benefited from Mandal politics, will be the big losers as other smaller castes among backwards, who together numerically outnumber some particular dominant upper castes, will seek their share of power,” Paswan said.
Paswan, who was a member of the V P Singh Cabinet when Mandal Commission’s recommendations were implemented, also said the NDA, of which he is a part now, will win Bihar polls hands down if the data comes out.
On Lalu and Nitish Kumar’s contention that Narendra Modi was not the first OBC Prime Minister as claimed by BJP chief Amit Shah, Paswan said former PM H D Deve Gowda was a Vokkaliga, which is a powerful community in Karnataka.
“Modi’s caste falls under extremely backdward castes (EBC) in Gujarat,” he said and exuded confidence that EBCs will vote for NDA.