KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she will accept a nationwide caste-based census if all political parties reach a consensus on the matter.
Banerjee's statement came at the backdrop of a 10-party delegation from Bihar headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to push for a caste-based census.
"When there will be a discussion and if a consensus is reached, I will not have any problem accepting it. I will not fight if all political parties and states reach a consensus. Let political parties, the CMs and the Central government reach a consensus," Banerjee said.
She declined to say much on the issue, saying that sentiments differ from one state to the other.
Banerjee said, "Nitish-ji has put up his questions on this issue. Let's see how others react to it."
Statistics about different castes will help in formulating development schemes effectively as many of them have not benefitted so far in line with their actual population, the Bihar CM has said.
The BJP leadership has so far not taken a categorical stand on the issue which has been lapped up by a number of regional parties, many of them its rivals in different states.
With census being the Union's prerogative, it is now up to the Centre to take a call on the demand.
There is a view that a caste census will bring the Mandal politics to the centre stage of politics and can be an effective weapon in the hands of regional parties to counter the BJP's Hindutva and welfare planks, the twin issues used by the saffron party to make inroads into the OBC vote bank at the expense of state-based parties.
The caste-based census has not taken place in the country since British rule.