Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on Monday quick to seize the opportunity offered by the Bihar caste survey report — which said SCs, STs, OBCs and Extremely Backward Classes together account for 84 per cent of the state’s population — to push ahead with his formula to bring back socially disadvantaged sections of the society to his party.
Armed with this empirical evidence, Rahul asserted in a post on X: “Jitni abaadi, utna haq: Yeh hamara pran hai (Share in proportion to population. This is our pledge).” He referred to the statistics he has been repeatedly citing, that only three of the 90 secretaries in the government of India are OBCs.
The Congress amplified Rahul’s post and said in a statement that the data of the Bihar survey would help the leadership address socio-economic inequality in the state. Pointing out that the UPA had conducted a caste census but the Narendra Modi government is not disclosing the figures, the Congress said its government in Karnataka had also conducted a caste-based census.
“If the Modi government fails to conduct a Caste Census, we will undertake the
exercise as soon as the Congress government is formed in 2024. We will ensure that every section of society receives its fair share!” the Congress posted on X. People across social media platforms reminded the party that the data of the Karnataka exercise carried out in 2015 had not been released yet though Siddaramaiah was back in the saddle.
Rahul’s call was echoed by BSP’s Danish Ali who too spoke up in support of every group having proportional access to opportunity. “Jiski jitnai sankhya bhaari, utni uski ho hissedaari (Representation according to population),” Ali said, urging the Yogi Adityanath government to carry out a caste survey in Uttar Pradesh.
“Data from the caste survey in Bihar is revealing of the composition of society. This data will help the government in making policies accurately with concrete understanding of deprivations. Such exercises are needed in other states too for scientific and evidence-based policy making,” said CPI’s D. Raja.
Asked about the call for proportional representation, he told this newspaper that there is a need to discuss this first. Further, he said, there is an urgent need to lift the 50 per cent ceiling on reservations imposed by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case and also push for quotas in the private sector as job opportunities in the government sector are shrinking due to privatisation.
Given how emotive caste politics can become, other parties in the Opposition — while supportive of the need for a nationwide caste census — appear to have decided to take their time in commenting on the Bihar survey report which has the potential of setting the narrative for the prolonged election season that awaits the country beginning with the winter round of Assembly polls followed by the general elections in spring.