Other States

OBC quota split a factor in U.P.

The Yogi Adityanath government remains silent on the report submitted by a four-member social justice committee formed to review the situation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the State. However, a political discussion has already ensued, as the report suggests limited quota for dominant castes like Yadavs and Kurmis.

Poll tactic

The move is being seen as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) tactic to unite the Most Backward Castes against the Yadav community, as the party prepares to to face, most likely, a joint Samajwadi Party (SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) force in 2019.

While the report has still not been made public or tabled in the Assembly, despite being sent to the government in October, according to an allegedly leaked copy of the report, the panel has recommended a split of the 27% OBC quota into three categories. They would be the Pichda Varg (Backward Class) at 7%, the Ati Pichda (More Backward) at 11%, and the Atyant Pichda (Most Backward) at 9%.

The panel, headed by retired Allahabad High Court Justice Raghavendra Kumar, has listed 79 sub-castes under the OBC category. Of these, nine fall under Backward Class, 37 under More Backward and 33 under Most Backward categories.

Significantly, listed under the Backward Class, who may then be restricted to 7% quota, are castes like the Yadav, Kurmi and Jat. The panel says that these castes are politically, socially, economically and culturally “strong” and have secured employment in government jobs at a ratio higher than their population, while also enjoying influential political representation. “They have not been socially oppressed and feel proud in telling their castes,” reads the over 400-page report.

‘Specific castes’

The More Backward category would include castes like Gurjar, Kushwaha-Maurya-Shakya, Prajapati, Gaderia-Pal, Baghel, Sahu, Kumhar, Teli and Lodh. The panel says that though these castes may not face cultural exclusion, they have poor representation politically and economically. Their employment rate is only 50% in comparison to their population, while some specific castes among them have been securing more employment in comparison to other castes, leading to the emergence of a new middle class, says the report.

The third category, the Most Backward, consists of the most deprived castes, who are backward in all respects, while mostly employed either in lower levels of services (Grades 3 and 4), and having zero representation. Their political drawing power is also limited, the report notes. They include the riverine castes like Mallah, Nishad, Kewat, Kashyap and Kahar, apart from Bind, Rajbhar, Bhar, Loniya Chauhan, Dheevar and Ghosi.

The committee was set up by Mr. Adityanath in May to explore the sub-categorisation of the OBC quota, amid demands from the BJP’s ally in U.P., the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP).

The SBSP’s leader, Cabinet Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar, has been demanding the implementation of the report and touring various districts of U.P. to raise his voice for it. On December 24, the SBSP will stage demonstrations at all District Headquarters, demanding the implementation of the report and the sub-categorisation of the OBC quota.

Mr. Rajbhar says only a few dominant castes are enjoying the benefits of the OBC quota. “We will sit on a dharna till the report is implemented,” he said.

Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav held two back-to-back meetings with Backward Caste leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday, warning them of “conspiracies” to divide and mislead the 85%.

“The BJP has lost on all issues. It is doing the politics of divide and rule. The BJP always says that the number of OBCs should be counted. We say everyone should be counted, because the BJP itself believes in sabka saath sabka vikaas — everyone gets rights and honour as per their population,” Mr. Yadav told reporters on Tuesday.

A similar report was released under the Rajnath Singh government in 2001, which divided the OBC into three categories, isolating the Yadavs to a mere 5% quota.

However, it could not get implemented as the BJP soon lost power in the State and it was also stayed in court.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 10:42:28 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/obc-quota-split-a-factor-in-up/article25783124.ece