Demand of caste census raised in UP
“The state government has data and information about everything but we do not have the same information about our own people. Let’s finish this dispute forever,” Akhilesh Yadav said
As the Bihar government has decided to go ahead with caste census, the demand for the same has been raised in Uttar Pradesh with Samajwadi Party national president Akhilesh Yadav taking the lead alleging that the BJP is only interested in votes of the SCs and OBCs and not in their welfare.
The issue was raised during a debate in Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha when Akhilesh Yadav, who is Leader of Opposition in the House, demanded that let there be caste-based census. Every caste be given its due share in power structure as per their share in population, he said.
“The state government has data and information about everything but we do not have the same information about our own people. Let’s finish this dispute forever,” Yadav said in his speech.
He said the government has the data about PM Kisan Samman Yojna when it claims that 2.47 crore farmers are the beneficiaries of this scheme. The government also has data of almost entire population who are beneficiaries of different government schemes. “Why the government is silent on having data on population and wary of conducting caste census,” he said.
The BJP opposed it saying Akhilesh Yadav did nothing when he was chief minister for five years till 2017 and never demanded caste census from the UPA government then headed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Labour and employment minister Anil Rajbhar attached Akhilesh saying they (Samajwadis) claim to be socialist but they work only for one caste and one family. “Over 60 percent benefits of OBCs reservation were cornered by the Yadavs alone and most backward communities like Rajbhar, Bind Nishad and other social groups among the OBCs got nothing” he said.
The BJP appears to be wary of a caste census as this can lead to the resurgence of regional parties, which have OBCs (Other Backward Classes) as their core voters. The BJP leaders argue that a caste census may further fragment Indian society.
The supporters of caste census believes that it will enable a detailed enumeration of OBCs and help identify sections that remain off the government’s social welfare radar or have benefitted less. A caste census will help the state identify those at the bottom of the social and economic ladder and pull them up using proactive measures.
The last caste census was carried out in 1931, while in 2011, the UPA regime undertook the Socio-Economic Caste Census to get data on the caste and economic status of every household in the country. The socio-economic data from the census was made public in 2015 but the caste data was withheld citing discrepancies.
In August 2021, the Bihar chief minister had led an all-party delegation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking the Centre to conduct a caste-wise census. As the Centre has largely maintained a studied silence, Bihar has made up its mind to go ahead on its own. The pressure would be now on Uttar Pradesh. With Lok Sabha elections in 2024, this, in all likelihood, will be a big political issue.