The caste survey in Bihar has pushed forward demand in several states for similar census and divided parties across the country on the issue. The survey, released by the Bihar government on Monday, found that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) constitute more than 63% of the population in the state.
The caste survey has given an opportunity to parties like the JD(U) and RJD to mobilise backward classes and castes in their favour. The survey is likely to amplify the demand for similar caste census in other such states and increase the OBC quota beyond 27 per cent.
As per the caste survey, the total population of Bihar is 13,07,25,310, while the OBC and EBC categories make up 63 per cent. The Extremely Backward Classes (36 per cent) were the largest social segment, followed by the Other Backward Classes at 27.13 per cent.
In terms of castes, 27.12% of the population was OBCs, while EBCs were 36.01%. Yadavs were the single largest social group with 14.26% of the population.
Dalits constitute over 19.65% of Bihar’s population while the unreserved category constitute around 15.5% of the total population.
Parties in Favour
The caste census has led to demands by several opposition parties including DMK, BSP, NCP calling for similar surveys. Here is a list of parties that have went in support or against the caste survey:
Bahujan Samaj Party
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has supported the caste survey in Uttar Pradesh and called it the “first step in the long struggle for the constitutional rights of OBCs.”
“The news of the caste census data conducted by the Bihar government being made public is in the news today and intense discussions are going on it. Some parties are definitely uncomfortable with this, but for BSP this is the first step in the long struggle for the constitutional rights of OBCs,” Mayawati said in her post on X.
Nationalist Congress Party
The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Jitendra Awhad has hailed the Bihar government’s caste survey and demanded that a similar exercise be carried out in all states of the country, including Maharashtra.
The member of the Maharashtra legislative assembly representing the Mumbra-Kalwa constituency in Thane district alleged that the rights of the OBCs were being snatched away.
“Bihar has taken a brave step forward. It took a decision to conduct a caste-based census. And what truth came out of it (caste-based census)? It revealed that the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) comprise 61 per cent of the population. The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs together form 85 per cent of its population,” he said.
The ruling party in Tamil Nadu has also expressed support for the caste census. Earlier this year, a meeting of opposition parties which was called by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin calling for a national caste census of backward communities.
Aam Aadmi Party
Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh has called for caste-based census in the entire country. Singh also accused the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running away from conducting a caste census.
The Congress on Monday too welcomed the Bihar government’s move to release the findings of a caste census and called upon the Centre to immediately conduct a similar exercise at the national level to ensure social justice and provide a firm foundation for social empowerment programmes.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi noted that while the Bihar census shows that OBCs, SCs and STs together form 84% of the population, there are only three OBC secretaries out of 90 at the Centre who handle 5% of India’s budget.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the UPA government led by the Congress had conducted a census but its results were not published by the Modi government.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi has also demanded that the central government take up a nation-wide caste census and revise the reservations for various castes accordingly. Earlier in March, the party moved a motion for suspension of rules to discuss caste census in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in this regard.
Other Parties in Support
Several other parties including Shiv Sena (Uddhav faction), PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, Left and Apna Dal have favoured the caste based census.
Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has not clearly expressed its stance on the caste census. In the past, the party has expressed reservations about conducting a caste census on the grounds that it “will lead to demands for self-governance in certain areas,” as per reports.
Parties Not Clear
Parties including JD(S) in Karnataka and Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh have not cleared their stance on caste-based census.
(With inputs from agencies)