Bihar caste survey: Opposition steps up call for similar drive in heartland states | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Bihar caste survey: Opposition steps up call for similar drive in heartland states

By, , Lucknow/bhopal:
Oct 03, 2023 09:00 AM IST

The results of Bihar’s caste survey announced on Monday galvanised opposition parties in the heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to demand similar exercises in their states.

The results of Bihar’s caste survey announced on Monday galvanised opposition parties in the heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to demand similar exercises in their states.

JD(U) supporters celebrate after the Bihar government released the caste survey report, in Patna on Monday. (ANI)
JD(U) supporters celebrate after the Bihar government released the caste survey report, in Patna on Monday. (ANI)

In Uttar Pradesh -- where politics around the recommendations of the Mandal Committee in 1990 created a political churn and aided the rise of regional giants Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party -- SP chief AKhilesh Yadav hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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“Bihar’s caste census report is published: This is the mathematical basis for social justice. The caste census will not put 85% (others) against 15% (upper caste Hindus), but will open pathways for cooperation (between them)...The BJP government should stop politicking and get a nationwide caste census done,” he wrote on X.

Holding a caste census is a core demand of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, of which the SP is a partner. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Apna Dal (K) -- both allies of the SP and also INDIA -- are on the same page on the issue as the SP.

“The caste census is a must in UP as well to ensure correct share of various castes in various government schemes,” RLD state president Ramashish Rai said. “We demand the UP government immediately order a caste census now when the Bihar government has even released the report.”

The Congress, also a member of INDIA, said the Bihar survey results had vindicated the Opposition bloc’s stance

Uttar Pradesh was the original playground for the battle between mobilisations around the Mandal commission recommendations and the Ram Janmabhoomi movement -- known popularly as Mandal vs Kamandal -- and the SP appeared to be hoping for a revival of this polarisation to reverse the BJP’s deep inroads among large chunks of the backwards and Dalit communities. In recent rallies, Akhilesh Yadav has repeatedly proclaimed his party’s electoral formula in the form of PDA (Pichada-Dalit-Alpsankhyak, that is backwards, Dalits and Muslims), and said he believed in the slogan, “Jitni jiski sankhya bhaari, utni uski hisseydaari”.

In Madhya Pradesh, state Congress chief Kamal Nath said that his party will conduct a caste survey if it came to power in the upcoming assembly elections. “When we come to power, we will conduct a caste census in the state to ensure development of the deprived people,” Nath said.

In another poll-bound state, Rajasthan, chief minister Ashok Gehlot has also supported a caste survey, saying he supports higher representation to OBCs, as per their population in jobs and education admissions.

In Madhya Pradesh, OBC groups have been demanding a caste census for several decades. The demand gained momentum after 2019 when the then Congress-led state government increased OBC reservation from 14% to 27%. The OBC reservation bill was passed in the state assembly in July 2019 by then Congress-led government, taking overall reservation to 73%. On September 3, 2021, the BJP-led state government issued an order asked all the departments to implement enhanced 27% reservation for OBCs in all departments, except school education, health and medical education.

However, the decision has been challenged in the Madhya Pradesh high court. In court, the state government said in 2020 that over 51% of state’s population belonged to OBC groups, and their representation in government jobs was 13.6%.

The BJP in both UP and MP said that the backward communiteis benefitted from the double engine government, a reference to same party government at the Centre and the state.

“All castes, be it backwards, Dalits or others, are development-oriented for they know they will benefit when development happens. Now, in Uttar Pradesh everyone is getting their rights and respect,” said BJP’s UP OBC wing chief and backward welfare minister Narendra Kashyap.

Madhya Pradesh horticulture minister Bharat Singh Kushwaha said that the caste survey and development were not related.

“The caste census will only create a rift in the society. Now, people of one caste will suppress the people of other caste who are less in population in Bihar,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Pankaj Jaiswal is Chief of Bureau, Uttar Pradesh and covers politics. His continued interest in rural, distress, and development journalism, fetched him a handful of prestigious awards and fellowships. Pankaj is a photo-journalist too and tweets at @augustus29lotus

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    author-default-90x90

    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

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