Express News Service

NDA allies in Bihar – the JD-U, the Hindustani Awam Morcha and the VIP, have joined the Opposition in demanding a caste census. Dr Nikhil Anand, a social-justice thinker and the national general secretary of the OBC Morcha of the BJP speaks to Rajesh Kumar Thakur on the party’s stance on social justice and caste census. Excerpts:

The BJP is getting cornered on the issue of caste-based census with its allies joining hands with the Opposition. What do you say?

The issue of social justice has been defined well by our PM Narendra Modi ji with the slogan- ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas’. He has done a lot to uplift members of the deprived and  oppressed communities whether SC, ST, OBC or Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs). Caste census is just one issue. The whole idea of social justice can’t be limited to caste census.

The BJP is the biggest advocate of social justice since the starting days of Jana Sangh. Do you think, caste census is the panacea for all the evils plaguing Indian society? It seems like Pandora’s box, but we are sensible in our approach and very pragmatic towards the cause of social justice. We are not directly opposed to the caste census, but the time frame and preparation are also important. Those demanding caste census must first ask the Congress why they have betrayed the OBCs since Independence.

You can’t blame the Congress for not doing enough for the caste census in 2021. Now, it is your government that is in power at the Centre. What do you have to say?

In 2010, there was a debate in Parliament on conducting a caste census in 2011. Those blaming the BJP should listen to what our leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Gopinath Munde and said on the issue back then. It is in the records of Parliament. After the said debate, the UPA government agreed to conduct caste census. Usually, census is conducted under the Census Act. Surprisingly, rather than doing it with the regular census, the UPA government conducted a separate caste census involving private agencies and NGOs of their choice in violation of the Census Act. They wasted 5,000 crore of public money and ended up doing something like a sample survey. That is why there are so many data discrepancies. The Congress has cheated the OBCs of India by doing a Caste Census Fraud, which must be investigated and the culprits brought to book.

BJP’s prominent ally in Bihar, JD-U has joined the Opposition in demanding a caste census. How difficult will this be for the BJP in the coming days?

Parties like the RJD and the Congress are so desperate to save their family business, which is politics. The RJD has used the OBCs as a vote bank only. How can the party justify its stance, while sitting in the lap of the Congress? BJP is sitting pretty well, banking on the work done by the union government over the past seven years. Whatever our PM has done for social justice in seven years, the Congress couldn’t do in 70 years. Antyodaya (Social Justice) and Rashtrawad (Nationalism) are at the core of our governance. We have promoted the all-around growth of this country. No political party has done anything close to what we have done for the poor through ‘Garib Kalyan Yojna’.

It has been reported that there is a difference within the Bihar BJP over caste census. Is it true that there are two factions in the party on this issue?

BJP is the only political party, which has inner democracy and a culture of discourse. Most of the political parties in Bihar and India are either a family fiefdom or pocket organisations of self-obsessed individuals. The BJP, under the leadership of PM Modi ji and Amit Shah ji has become the largest political organisation globally proves that we are a democratic party. The positive growth and journey of the BJP continues with present president J.P.Nadda ji. Every leader of our organisation is committed to the nation first, the party second. So, the question of factionalism is a fiction written by the Congress.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has repeatedly branded the BJP as anti-OBCs. What is your response?

Giving constitutional status to NCBC, the inclusion of 27 OBC ministers in Union Cabinet, giving reservation to OBC & EWS in NEET, OBC reservation in KVS, NVS, Sainik Schools; these are some of the pro-OBC decisions of PM Narendra Modi. They are the most courageous since Mandal Commission Implementation. The recent Cabinet expansion has given a strong message to the communities, who were left out till date from the policy-making and decision-making process.

This gives an opportunity to the subaltern leaders, who have been inducted into the top decision-making body to prove their leadership credentials and work hard to realise the vision of Modi ji. The days of casteism and dynastic social justice leaders are going to be over with a new era of social justice heralded by PM Modi. This Union government has the quantitative aptitude as well as the qualitative merit to take India towards the future, to newer heights. Narendra Modi as the new messiah of social justice has arrived for the OBCs.

A JD-U leader Upendra Kushwaha had recently said, even if JD-U is in NDA, if the government doesn’t conduct caste census, then it can create conflict with the BJP.

I won’t make any personal statement on a leader, who is chairman of JDU parliamentary party. But everyone should know that BJP respects its alliance partners and their leaders. The longstanding credibility, essence and ethos of NDA won’t be disturbed by any individual statements. JDU’s senior leader RCP Singh is the part of the union cabinet. But I would like to add some points here as well. BJP OBC Morcha has recently organized a programme to felicitate 27 OBC ministers in Delhi. We are receiving calls from all over the country appreciating the PM’s initiative in favour of OBCs. Even some left, liberal and congress people are calling in person to appreciate the PM.

I would again repeat that Congress is the villain of the Caste Census and that’s why they are keeping quite on this issue like a cunning fox. Where Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and what are their take on the caste census issue? Whereas RJD is going through cat fight days and they are raising some issues out of context to save the prestige of party and family.

How would the BJP tackle the aggressive politics played by the RJD in Bihar and SP in Uttar Pradesh on caste census and other social justice issue?

See, RJD and Samajwadi Party echo the OBC sentiment only to grab votes their votes. How many OBC and Yadav leaders, have they produced beyond their family till date?  Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav have taken up politics like family businesses. There are many more talented, educated OBCs and Yadavs, who are struggling to come to the mainstream of politics. When the RJD got an opportunity tobe a part in the Union government, they promoted a mafia criminal Taslimuddin as MOS- Home and we have included bright young leader Nityanand Rai, a Yadav as MOS- Home. Today, Bhupendra Yadav is the biggest Yadav face in Indian Politics courtesy BJP’s inclusive politics. These people have no political legacy and come from a very humble background.

What is the stand of BJP OBC Morcha on the issues related to the OBC community including caste census?

The BJP OBC Morcha intends to take up the positive debate on social justice to every nook and corner of India in the leadership of its National President Dr K Laxman ji. We have not rejected the caste  census issue in toto, but we are against any attempt to promote casteism and create divisions in society. OBC Morcha wants to go beyond the caste and promote community development. Our goal is not fragmentation but the consolidation of society and strengthening of the country. We want equal opportunity, equal participation and equal representation for OBC.

The Congress has never spared anyone who fought for or promoted the cause of nationalism and social justice in politics, whether they belonged to their own fraternity or rival camps. The victimisation of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, B P Mandal, Karpoori Thakur,  K Kamaraj, Devaraj Urs to V P Singh, Arjun Singh, Sitaram Kesri, Rajesh Pilot and others clearly shows Congress’ bias against leaders who tried to express their nationalism or stood in favour of the exploited and downtrodden.