NEW DELHI: Joining in the chorus with its Bihar allies JD(U) and the RJD, the Congress on Tuesday demanded that the social-economic household survey -- i.e., the caste census -- should be made public so that the reservation issue could be revisited.
The grand old party also for the first time admitted that reservation for the economically backward among the forward castes should also be considered. Coming close on the heels of the Patel quota stir that shook Gujarat recently, this was a significant change of stance from the Congress. More so because party vice-president Rahul Gandhi himself had distanced the party from such an idea of reservations on economic backwardness criteria floated by the Congress organisational secretary, Janardan Dwivedi, just before the 2014 elections.
Now, that the caste census and entitlement politics has gained coinage in the run-up to the Bihar Assembly elections and with young Hardik Patel trying to spread his agitation beyond Gujarat, the Congress seems to be having a rethink. Bihar PCC chief Ashok Choudhury, addressing the media in Delhi hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fourth rally in the election-bound state, said the only way the issue of reservation and financial allocation could be determined was on the basis of the caste census.
Choudhury asserted that the issue of reservation for the economically backward class could also be looked into “once the caste census was made public”. However, the government, he alleged, has been cagey about revealing the details, which could throw up startling statistics. He, however, had to counter the charge that the Bihar grand alliance, particularly RJD chief Lalu Prasad, was pandering to caste sentiments by openly appealing to his Yadav vote-bank.