Caste census: Nitish govt data says OBCs 63%, SCs 19% and general population only 16% in Bihar
The move to declare census results is likely to shake up the political landscape, coming mere months before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections
In a move which could shake up India’s political landscape just months before the Lok Sabha elections 2024, the Nitish Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan government on Monday, 2 October, released the data gleaned from the state caste census.
The publication of the data was timed to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, one of the nation's most influential leaders to have inveighed against the prevalent cultural norms around the caste system.
The data shows that 'extremely backward' and 'other backward classes' (EBCs and OBCs) form 63 per cent of the state’s population together, while the scheduled castes (SCs) account for more than 19 per cent and scheduled tribes (ST) make up 1.68 per cent of Bihar's population. That leaves the 'general' population at less than 16 per cent.
The upper castes, or savarna, then form 15.52 per cent of Bihar’s total population—being the 'general' population.
Calling it a "historic moment", the deputy chief minister of Bihar Tejashwi Yadav wrote on X, “Bihar's caste-based survey data has been made public! A watershed moment! The result of decades of struggle! Now both the policies and intentions of the government will respect the data from this caste-based survey.”
Known as the Bihar Jaati Adharit Ganana, the Bihar caste-based survey has reported a total population of over 13 crore. The detailed break-up reveals that the OBCs and STs constitute more than 82 per cent of the total population.
Despite facing legal challenges and opposition, the Nitish Kumar government has maintained that the survey was crucial for social justice. The Supreme Court did not halt the exercise, allowing the state to proceed with its plans.
The Congress party has supported the idea of a caste census and asked the Modi government repeatedly to conduct a caste census too. Rahul Gandhi has time and again spoken in favour of caste census and reservation for OBCs.