Bihar will bring bill to hike quota to 75%, says Nitish Kumar after caste survey
Bihar chief minister Nitsh Kumar said the increase in quota will allow OBC and EBC to have larger share in tune with their population
The Bihar government will soon bring legislation to increase reservation for the other backward classes (OBCs), scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) for admission to educational institutions and public recruitment, chief minister Nitish Kumar said on Tuesday minutes after the government tabled socio-economic data of the caste survey.
Kumar said, “Bihar has done detailed work to bring all the facts before everyone. After 75% quota, there will be 25% free seats. Increase in quota will allow OBC and EBC to have larger share in tune with their population.”
“I will urge the Centre to see how we have done and do caste census across the country. It will benefit the poor in the real sense. We will share all our data with the Centre and apprise it of the steps we would take to tackle poverty. We will bring a Bill in the present session only,” he added.
Later in the evening, the Nitish Kumar-led Cabinet cleared the proposal for hike in reservation to 75%. The bill will have provision of 18% quota for backward classes, 25% for extremely backward classes (EBCs), 20% for SCs, 2% for STs, and10% for the economically weaker sections (EWS) among the upper caste. To be sure, this will be up from the 50 per cent ceiling set by the Supreme Court.
The bill could be placed before the House on Wednesday or Thursday, an official familiar with the matter said.
The move follows the caste survey’s finding that nearly 33% of people from the backward classes and the extremely backward classes (EBC) in Bihar are poor. The households earning less than ₹6,000 a month were classified as poor, the government said.
Maintaining that the state has 95 lakh families (34.3% population) living in poverty across all sections and having no employment, Kumar said that he had a lot of things in mind to help the poor with financial assistance for self-employment and to ensure land to the landless.
“We plan to give one time assistance of ₹2 lakh to each of the poor families so that they could start their own venture of their liking. Besides, 63,850 families have been found to be homeless. We have a policy to give them ₹60,000 for land, which be increased to ₹1 lakh so that they could buy their land. There is already a policy for ₹1.20 lakh assistance for building house. We will launch a campaign to cover all of them,” he added.
Though the leader of Opposition Vijay Kunar Sinha intervened to ask if he was making poll announcements, with other BJP leaders also supporting him, Kumar said things had come this far due to the cooperation of all the parties from the very beginning and a history has been scripted.
Kumar also reminded the House that the demand for caste census was very old, and he had first been apprised of its importance by former president Gyani Zail Singh and later he discussed the matter with senior socialist leaders like Madhu Limaye, Madhu Dandavate and former prime minister late VP Singh.
Kumar said, “Those who say their caste number has come down or some castes have inflated figures, are talking crap, as this is the first caste survey after 1931. How do they know their numbers without any study?”
“In 2019 and 2020, both Houses of the Bihar Legislature unanimously passed the resolution for caste-based count and later an all-party delegation also met the Prime Minister in this regard. There, it emerged that the Centre would not do, but the states could do and we moved ahead. Efforts were made to prevent it through courts, which delayed the process, but ultimately both the high court and the Supreme Court clearly said there was nothing wrong with it,” Kumar said.
“A large number of people were deployed for the job after proper training. But I always say that the Centre should do caste census. Now the census is overdue and with the next census they could do it. It will have only benefits,” he added.
Earlier, parliamentary affairs minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said the legitimacy of the exercise was amply reflected through the Patna HC order, which observed: “We find the action of the state to be perfectly valid, initiated with due competence, with the legitimate aim of providing ‘development with justice.”
“It will be a reference document for social researchers in the decades to come. Its importance cannot be appreciated in true measure today,” he added.
BJP leaders also termed it a good step initiated by the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, but urged the CM to look into the concerns raised.
Former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi said that as per the data, 45% Mushahars and 46% Bhuniyas are in the rich category, and he would only thank the CM. “But the reality is to be seen to be believed,” he added.