Union minister Giriraj Singh on Sunday said that he will stoutly oppose any attempt to give legitimacy to "Bangladeshi infiltrators" by keeping them from being included in the headcount of castes in Bihar.
Singh, who represents the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in the state, was in Muzaffarpur to take part in a function held in the memory of ascetic-cum-peasant leader Swami Sadanand Saraswati. "I follow the example of Swami Ji who was born in a Bhumihar family but always thought in terms of jamaat (society) and not jaat (caste)," said Singh, who himself belongs to the influential upper caste.
The firebrand BJP leader was also asked about the headcount of castes which is being undertaken by the Nitish Kumar government in the state following the refusal of the Centre to conduct the same as part of the census. "We have no problems with the headcount. But it should take into account caste segregation among Muslims. Moreover, if Bangladeshi infiltrators get covered in the exercise, we will strongly oppose it," he said.
The headcount, for which the chief minister's JD(U) and his arch-rival Lalu Prasad's RJD is claiming credit, seeks to mollify the OBCs, who are numerically powerful and have been dominating politics in Bihar since Mandal Commission recommendations were implemented three decades ago.
The BJP, which is primarily seen as a party of upper-caste Hindus, had expressed a couple of reservations at the all-party meeting which was followed by the cabinet nod for the headcount earlier this month. The first contention of the party, which rules the Centre and shares power in the state, was that upper caste Muslims must not be allowed to avail of OBC quotas by furnishing false information about their socio-economic status.
The second contention was that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, rumored to be in large numbers in the Seemanchal region close to the neighboring country, must be kept out of the exercise lest they start claiming to be citizens and demand associated benefits.