Uttar Pradesh adds 17 OBC groups to Scheduled Castes list

Move likely to benefit BJP in upcoming by-elections to 12 Assembly seats

June 30, 2019 01:36 am | Updated 08:25 am IST - Lucknow

Yogi Adityanath

Yogi Adityanath

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has included 17 communities belonging to the Other Backward Classes in the Scheduled Castes list.

A decision to this effect was taken late Friday night and authorities have been directed to issue certificate to families belonging to these 17 castes.

The additions are — Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bhar, Dhivar, Batham, Machua, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Pottar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Tuhaha and Gaur.

This move is seen as an attempt by the Adityanath government to provide these socially and economically backward classes with the benefits of reservation after removing legal irritants that have stalled the issue in the past. The move will leave greater space in the OBC quota for the remaining OBC caste groups.

15-year-old demand

This is also the fulfilment of a 15-year-old demand by these 17 caste groups.

Coming before the by-elections to 12 Assembly seats in the State, the move is likely to benefit the BJP and further erode the vote base of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.

This, incidentally, is the third time that the State government will be making an attempt on the issue. Previously, both, the SP and BSP governments had attempted to include these groups in the SC category but failed to do so due to legal intervention.

The first attempt was made by the Mulayam Singh Yadav regime when it brought a resolution in 2004. The then SP government amended the U.P. Public Services Act, 1994, to include as many as 17 OBC communities in the SC category. Since the power to declare any caste as SC rests with the Centre, the then State government’s decision, taken without the Centre’s consent, proved futile.

The Allahabad High Court later quashed the decision declaring the move unconstitutional and void.

Another attempt was made in 2012 when Akhilesh Yadav came to power and a high-level committee, headed by the then Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani, sought details from the Department of Social Welfare in this regard. The circular from the Chief Secretary on March 28, 2012, spoke about the government’s priorities, including the inclusion of as many as 17 OBC sub-castes within the SC category. The matter, however, was rejected by the Centre.

The BSP, however, vehemently opposed the idea and demanded increase in SC quota from the present quantum in the changed scenario. It also termed the move as a “conspiracy to dilute the reservation quota for Dalits”.

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