Call for fresh OBC census cannot become a political football during elections: Laxman

Nation-wide caste census will take time as it needs a scientific and comprehensive study, which requires consensus of all stakeholders, says BJP OBC Morcha national president

May 02, 2023 07:39 pm | Updated 07:39 pm IST - HYDERABAD

File photo of BJP OBC Morcha national president K. Lakshman with Home Minister Amit Shah.

File photo of BJP OBC Morcha national president K. Lakshman with Home Minister Amit Shah. | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

BJP Rajya Sabha MP and national OBC Morcha president K. Laxman, currently campaigning in Karnataka, says that the clamour for a fresh survey to enumerate the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) cannot be used as a political football during elections. Vehemently denying that the party is against the survey as is being demanded by Congress party and other Opposition parties. “It is a much more serious issue and there is no consensus within the Congress itself,” he charges in this exclusive interview.

Q: The demand for a countrywide OBC census seems to be rising with most parties demanding it to be taken up, what is your party’s stand now?

A: We are not against it at all. The Modi Government has given full power to the respective States to have their own census to include or exclude any castes from the OBCs list considering the complex caste arithmetic across the country. To do it in a nationwide scale, it will take time as it needs a scientific, comprehensive and exhaustive study along with consensus by all the stakeholders concerned

Q: But, Congress leadership has been insisting the Centre take it up right away accusing your government of dilly-dallying.

A: The Congress party has no moral right to talk about OBC rights having ignored the section during decades of it being in power from the days of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi. The first caste census was done in 1931 and continued till 1941 but neither the data was published nor any action taken thereafter. The Congress-led UPA regime took up caste census again in 2011 by private agencies spending about ₹6,000 crore, but it was not released as it was opposed by leaders within the Congress party itself.

Q: What is your government’s objection in releasing the 2011 caste census done by the Congress party-led UPA Government?

A: It was not done in a proper manner and the survey put the number of castes at 4.5 lakh and OBCs at 50,000! This is when the Mandal Commission has enumerated OBCs to be about 3,000. The 1931 caste census put the BCs at 52% of the population. Neither former Karnataka CM K. Siddaramaiah nor Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge mention about the State caste census prepared in 2015 during their time in power which too was not released due to internal opposition.

Q: What is the way forward then?

A: The Modi Government is committed to social justice and the fact that 27 Union Ministers hail from the OBCs is a testament of our resolve. The caste census issue cannot be made into a political slugfest considering the sentiments involved where some castes are considered forward in certain States and backward in some like the Reddys and Chaudharys are OBCs in Karnataka when they are in general category in Telugu States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

A section of Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are among OBCs so are a section of Vaishyas in Bihar. While many castes want to clamber onto the OBCs list, who would accept to be left out? It is not a simple issue, hence needs a thorough study away from politics and elections.

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