‘JD(U) wants caste census, but without friction with Centre’

There is no disquiet in the party regarding ministerial berths. We are happy with the portfolios allocated to us.
Former JD(U) secretary general K C Tyagi
Former JD(U) secretary general K C TyagiFile Photo

With 12 Lok Sabha seats, JD(U has emerged as one of the key players in PM Modi-led NDA government. In an interview with Preetha Nair, former JD(U) secretary general K C Tyagi talks about why the party will support BJP on speaker and deputy speaker, nationwide caste census.

Excerpts:

The JD(U) got two ministerial berths — one cabinet and another MoS. Is there any disenchantment on the portfolios as claimed by the Opposition?

There is no disquiet in the party regarding ministerial berths. We are happy with the portfolios allocated to us. The JD(U) has not even demanded specific portfolios from the BJP.

The first major challenge of the NDA government will be the election of the speaker. Recently, the Shiv Sena (UBT) said that the INDIA bloc will support NDA ally TDP if it fields a candidate. The TDP said that the NDA will take a call. Are NDA allies on the same page?

The statement made by Congress and its allies is mischievous and is aimed at creating mistrust among NDA partners. It is a parliamentary tradition that the speaker’s post is held by the ruling party. Also, the BJP is the largest party. So it’s the discretion of the BJP to nominate the speaker.

The opposition is demanding the post of the deputy speaker, which by convention is held by a member of an Opposition party. It was vacant for five years. What would be your party’s stand?

The tradition was that the deputy speaker post was held by an Opposition member. The situation has changed and both the speaker and the deputy speaker posts now go to the ruling party. Since Independence, speakers have been chosen by consensus. It will be ideal if NDA and INDIA leaders sort out their differences. The BJP and the Congress should take the initiative on this.

INDIA bloc claims that if the BJP gets the speaker post, it will break TDP, JD(U) and others…

The JD(U) fought the election as part of the NDA and will remain a part of the NDA in future. Nitish Kumar served as a minister in Vajpayee’s cabinet and he shares a good rapport with all leaders. We have opposed the BJP on policy matters. But they never tried to break us. Therefore, such allegations are false.

Mallikarjun Kharge has recently said that the NDA government will fall anytime. But you claimed that the INDIA bloc offered the PM post to Nitish Kumar…

There are no cracks in the NDA. After June 4, the INDIA bloc offered the PM post to Nitish Kumar, which he refused.

The JD(U) has been vocal about nationwide caste census. But the Modi government has never cleared its position on it. As an NDA ally, what is your position now? Will you still pursue the demand for a caste census?

We are committed to a nationwide caste census. However, we don’t want any confrontation with the Centre. We hope that it will conduct a pan-India caste census. Our party and Nitish Kumar have always championed the cause of social justice.

Bihar is the first state government to publish the outcome of a caste-based survey. The Centre challenged Bihar’s caste survey in the Supreme Court. What is the stand of the BJP now?

We started implementing welfare schemes as per the results shown by the survey. The BJP has not opposed our plans.

Issues such as ‘One Nation one poll’, Uniform Civil Code, and Delimitation, are being contested by several Opposition parties. What is your party’s stand?

We support the NDA government on ‘One Nation One Poll’. Our party will support the BJP if NDA government needs a two-third majority in Parliament to pass constitutional amendments on the implementation of One Nation One poll.

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