Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday welcomed the women's reservation bill brought by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, but with a few riders, including quotas for women from OBCs and Extremely Backward Classes.
The JD(U) supreme leader, whose party has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, also rued the Centre's "failure to conduct the census, which should have been held by 2021", after which fresh delimitation of constituencies in assemblies and Parliament would, as per the bill, precede the implementation of women's reservation.
Kumar said, in a statement issued by the CMO, that there should be quotas for women from Other Backward Classes and Extremely Backward Classes.
"Had the census been held, the quotas for women would have been possible much earlier. The Centre must expedite census and also undertake a headcount of castes," the Bihar CM said.
Notably, "caste census", in which social groups other than the SCs and STs are also counted, has been a long-standing demand of Kumar, which was turned down by the Modi government, prompting him to order a similar survey of castes at the state level.
The JD(U) leader is backed by allies like RJD in contending that since the last caste census was held way back in 1931, a fresh estimate was "much needed".
The opposition bloc INDIA, seen as a fruition of efforts of Kumar who began uniting parties opposed to the BJP after quitting the NDA, has promised a caste census if it comes to power after next year's Lok Sabha elections.
In his statement, Kumar also dwelt at length upon his own efforts like bringing in quotas for women in urban local bodies and panchayats, as also government jobs, including the police department.
The Centre on Tuesday introduced a constitutional amendment bill reserving 33 per cent of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, reviving a proposal pending for years and blending history, politics and societal imperatives on the first day in the new Parliament building.
The women’s reservation bill, named Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam and introduced in the Lower House by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, will come into effect only after a delimitation exercise is completed and is therefore unlikely to be in force during the next Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
-With PTI input