PATNA: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday reached out to non-BJP leaders across the country seeking their support on the issue of caste census for backward classes, which has received a cold shoulder from the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Two days after the Union government told the Supreme Court that it had taken a "conscious policy decision" not to undertake enumeration of OBCs and EBCs which it deemed "administratively cumbersome", Yadav, leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly, shot off letters to politicians as diverse as Nitish Kumar, Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal.
In the strongly-worded letter addressed to a total of 33 recipients, Yadav said "it bears repeating for a brazenly callous government that the caste system, which Dr B R Ambedkar referred to as a system of graded inequality, has been a great source of disadvantage for a significantly large section of population".
The Centre has agreed for a head count of only the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, much to the chagrin of the numerically powerful OBCs who have dominated politics in Hindi belt, particularly Bihar, since the 1990s.
Yadav, whose father Lalu Prasad and the his arch rival Chief Minister Nitish Kumar owe their rise in politics to the Mandal movement for OBC emowerment, said in his letter "we need to join our hands and push the government of the day" on the issue of caste census.
"I am open to suggestions and inputs from you so that we immediately prepare our plan of action in this regard without any further delay", said Yadav, who was a part of an all-party delegation headed by Nitish Kumar that had recently met the Prime Minister to press the demand.
All non-BJP Chief Ministers, including Uddhav Thackeray, M K Stalin, Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrasekhar Rao and Jaganmohan Reddy, besides heads of political parties not aligned with the NDA like Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Parkash Singh Badal and Sitaram Yechury have been marked a copy of the letter.
The NDA's alliance partners in Bihar, including Kumar, Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi and Vikassheel Insaan Party president Mukesh Sahni also figure in the list.
So does LJP's Chirag Paswan though, interestingly, his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras who heads a rival faction of the party and is a Union minister is not among the recipients.
Similarly, Akhtarul Iman, state president of the AIMIM, has been sent the letter but not the party chief Asaduddin Owaisi who claims to be equidistant from the BJP and mainstream "secular" parties like the Congress and its allies, including RJD.