Bhopal, Oct 10 : With the demand for a caste-based survey growing in the opposition INDIA bloc ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, a new kind of caste politics is taking shape in the country. The subject got momentum after the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government released its caste survey report on October 2.
The Congress, which is an integral part of the INDIA bloc, has taken a step further and announced that caste survey will be one its key agendas for the upcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh to be held on November 17.
Importantly, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, while addressing a public rally in MP’s Sagar district in August, had announced that the party will conduct a caste survey if it forms government in the state.
Subsequently, caste census was included in the 11 poll guarantees of the grand old party in poll-bound MP, which, as per the May 2022 state backward class report, houses 48 per cent OBC population, while many in the political circles believe that the total OBC voters may be around 52 per cent in the state.
The Congress’ pitch for caste census and OBC quota in women’s reservation comes as a strategic move to corner the BJP, which over the years has been the biggest beneficiary of OBC votes, reflected by the party’s last three CMs in the state — Uma Bharti, Babulal Gaur and current CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, all OBC leaders.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, while addressing a poll rally in the tribal dominated Shahdol district, said on Tuesday said that the “OBCs, SCs and STs are not getting their due in the country’s decision making and development process”.
Mentioning specifically about tribals, the Congress leader said that out of every Rs 100 spent by the Central government, the share of tribal decision makers is just 10 paisa.
“This amounts to utter disrespect for tribals. Owing to this, we are only demanding caste census in the country to first know the actual numbers of OBC, SC and ST population, and then we can render them their share in the nation’s prosperity based on their numbers,” he said.
On the other hand, the BJP, which is facing anti-incumbency after its nearly two-decade rule in Madhya Pradesh, maintained that the Congress is doing appeasement politics since it has lost everything.
Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel, who is contesting the Assembly elections from Narsinghpur in his home district Khandwa, said, “The Congress has ruled the country for decades, but what did it give to the backward classes? Even the constitutional status to the OBC Commission was rendered by the PM Modi-led government. Not only is our Prime Minister from the backward caste, but the list of OBC CMs from BJP too is long.”