Lalu protests withholding of caste census data

Patna, July 13 (IANS) Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad led thousands of his party workers here on Monday to protest the withholding of the caste-based census data by the Centre and demanded it be made public.

Lalu Prasad along with his two sons — Tej Pratap and Tejasvi Yadav — sitting in an open jeep led the protest march to Raj Bhawan here.

Addressing his party workers and supporters ahead of hitting the road, the former Bihar chief minister asked the people belonging to “Mandal (the backward classes) to rise and uproot the Kamandal (the anti-backward class BJP)”.

He said such a step was required because “the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government is anti-poor, anti-backward class and anti-Dalits”.

He appealed to all Dalits, OBCs (other backward classes) and Muslims to unite against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

“This march is just a beginning. We would protest (right up to) to parliament because Modi is not eager to make the data public soon. We will also stage dharna and protest in each village to block headquarters and district headquarters,” he said.

The RJD chief threatened to launch a bigger movement than the Mandal movement of the 1990s if the Modi government failed to make the caste-based census data public without any further delay.

Lalu Prasad said the RJD would call for Bihar bandh (shutdown) soon and if required the party would initiate ‘jail bharo andolan’ (courting arrests).

RJD would compel the BJP-led central government to make public the caste-based Census data soon…,” he told party workers before they launched the march.

Stating that the people of the country have a right to know the details of caste-based Census, he said: “Centre should make the caste census public instead of withholding the data on numerical strength of different castes.”

Lalu Prasad said people, particularly the poorest of the poor, marginalised and downtrodden sections of the society, deserved to know it and every caste should know its strength and weakness in terms of population and other aspects.

He said the RJD’s allies – the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Congress and National Congress Party (NCP) – have extended moral support to it on the issue.

Lalu Prasad hinted that the issue could be one of the main planks of the alliance of the RJD, JD-U, Congress and the NCP in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls.

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