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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar proposes 75 per cent quota in light of caste survey report

Closing the all-party debate on the survey report in the House, Nitish asserted that the government would 'bring the required legislation to increase the reservation limit during the ongoing winter session' that ends on Friday

Dev Raj Patna Published 08.11.23, 05:38 AM
Nitish Kumar leaves the Assembly on Tuesday.

Nitish Kumar leaves the Assembly on Tuesday. PTI picture

Chief minister Nitish Kumar proposed a total reservation of 75 per cent in government jobs and educational institutions in Bihar in the light of the full report of the caste-based survey tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Closing the all-party debate on the survey report in the House, Nitish asserted that the government would "bring the required legislation to increase the reservation limit during the ongoing winter session” that ends on Friday.

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“I believe that government policies will be made on the basis of the caste-based survey and socio-economic-educational data to help ensure the development of the poor and the marginalised. Our determination is to provide development with justice,” Nitish said.

Moving swiftly, Nitish chaired a cabinet meeting in the evening, where the proposal to increase the cumulative reservation to 75 per cent was ratified. It was also decided that welfare measures would be initiated to ensure the progress of the poor and marginalised sections of society.

Bihar currently has a total reservation of 60 per cent — 50 per cent for the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) and the Other Backward Castes (OBCs); and an additional 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category.

The caste-based survey counted the castes under 215 heads, pegging Bihar’s population at 13.07 crore, of which 36.02 per cent were EBCs, 27.13 per cent OBCs, 19.65 per cent SCs, 1.68 per cent STs and 15.52 per cent general category castes.

Among the big states, Tamil Nadu offers 69 per cent reservation and has not implemented the 10 per cent quota for the EWS category. Karnataka has 66 per cent reservation, Telangana 64 per cent and Maharashtra 62 per cent. Bihar will surpass all states if the new formula is implemented.

Elaborating the government’s stand on revisiting reservation in keeping with the proportion of the population of various categories, Nitish argued that the caste-based survey had revealed a 19.65 per cent SC population and a 1.68 per cent ST population in the state.

“The law is to provide cent per cent reservation to the SCs and STs, hence we will have to provide 22 per cent reservation to them. If we subtract it from the existing 50 per cent reservation upper limit, it will leave just 28 per cent for OBCs and EBCs. However, they account for over 63 per cent of the population and we should increase the quota for them,” Nitish said.

“We need to increase the reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and EBCs to 65 per cent. We have already accepted 10 per cent reservation for the EWS among the general category. Together, the quota will be 75 per cent, while 25 per cent will remain free,” Nitish said.

The Supreme Court has imposed a limit of 50 per cent on reservation in government jobs and educational institutions through its various judgments since 1990. However several states have crossed it.

Exhorting the Centre to get a caste census done in the country and formulate development policies accordingly, he said the state government would send the caste survey reports to it.

The INDIA bloc stood firmly in support of the chief minister. “We talk about the Gujarat model of development, but now people across the country will discuss the Bihar model, which will take ahead the poor and the backwards by ensuring their welfare. The BJP is hesitatant to conduct a caste census in the country because it is afraid of EBCs, OBCs and the poor coming to power. It is afraid that their issue of Hindutva will be overshadowed,” Congress MLA Rajesh Kumar said.

While the caste numbers were released on October 2, the entire report, including the socio-economic and educational condition of the castes, was tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Nitish’s reservation gambit was along expected lines and could help counter the planks of communalism, religious polarisation and ultra-nationalism of the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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