Almost three years after a report recommending subcategorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota into three divisions was submitted to the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government, a BJP Minister from the OBC community on Wednesday said the government was still examining the report.
The report has been a political hot potato for the BJP government as it suggested limited quota for dominant castes such as Yadavs, Kurmis and Jats.
Clubbing together the Yadavs, who form the support base of the Opposition Samajwadi Party, with the Kurmis, who are tilted towards the BJP and even have a party Apna Dal led by Kurmi leader Anupriya Patel allied to the ruling party, puts the BJP in a tight spot and jeopardises its till now successful strategy of pitting the non-Yadav OBCs against the Yadavs.
A social justice committee headed by retired Allahabad High Court judge Raghavendra Kumar in October 2018 submitted a report to the State government recommending a split in the 27% OBC quota into three categories; they would be the Pichda Varg (Backward Class), who get 7%; the Ati Pichda (More Backward), who get 11% and the Atyant Pichda (Most Backward), who get 9%.
The panel 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.
Despite being submitted to the government, the report is yet to be tabled in the Assembly or implemented. On Wednesday, Om Prakash Rajbhar, president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party and former BJP ally, demanded that the government clarify if it was going to implement the sub-categorisation.
“Six months are left for this government. Will this report be implemented or not,“ Mr. Rajbhar asked in the Assembly, accusing the BJP of betraying the backward caste people by dumping the report into a “dustbin.”
Mr. Rajbhar was sacked as a Cabinet Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government in 2019 months after he had launched a campaign demanding the implementation of sub-categorisation of quota and turned rebel.
Following his departure, BJP’s Rajbhar face Anil Rajbhar was allocated the Backward Class Welfare Ministry held by Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar, in a strategic move to downsize the latter’s impact.
Responding to Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar’s demands, Mr. Anil Rajbhar said the BJP government was fully committed to social justice and was examining the social justice committee report so that nobody could challenge it in court.
“The Yogi government doesn’t want to leave scope for anyone to question it or get an opportunity to approach court,” Mr. Anil Rajbhar said.
The BJP Minister, however, did not clarify if and when the government would implement the report.
“The government is examining it. When it is done, the picture will be clear. Yogiji’s government is committed to doing whatever is necessary for the welfare of the most-backward and backward caste [people],” Mr. Anil Rajbhar informed the House.
As per a leaked copy of the 400-plus page report, listed under the Backward Class, meaning who will be restricted to 7% quota, are castes such as Yadav, Kurmi and Jat. The panel says these castes are politically, socially, economically and culturally “strong” and have got employment in government jobs more than the ratio of their population, while also enjoying influential political representation.
The More Backward category would include castes such as 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.
The third category, the Most Backward, consists of the most deprived castes, who are backward in all respects. 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.