New Delhi [India], October 2 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition bloc INDIA engaged in a war of words after the Bihar caste survey was released by the state government on Monday, revealing that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) constitute more than 63 per cent of the population of Bihar.
With the parties of the INDIA bloc welcoming the report on caste in Bihar, the chorus for nationwide caste-based data has grown.
JDU leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his ally and RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav termed the publication of the report "historic", while the BJP and other prominent parties of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) criticised the Bihar government calling the report an"eye wash".
Kumar said the publication of the report has coincided with Gandhi Jayanti and congratulated the survey team for its work.
He said a meeting of the nine political parties in the Bihar Assembly, who had unanimously voted in support of the survey, will be called soon, and they will be informed about the its findings.
"The caste survey has also provided information about the economic condition of various castes. Steps will be taken for the development of all communities on the basis of this data," he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
RJD founder and former Chief Minister Lalu Yadav, too, welcomed the survey report and said the exercise was completed despite "BJP's conspiracies and legal hurdles".
"These figures will set a benchmark for the country in giving representation to deprived and oppressed sections and the poor as per their population and to make policies for their development," he posted on X.
Lalu Yadav said that the central government should ensure that sections of the society get a share in development as per their numbers. "We will get a caste Census done when we form the government in 2024," the RJD leader said.
Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav also congratulated and thanked the entire nation and the people of Bihar.
He said that the government did historic work on a historic day by releasing the survey.
"It has been our demand since the start...In the elections too it has been an important topic.... We have conducted the survey in very little time after forming the government...Today on a historic day we have done historic work...Our fight has been for social justice and economic justice. So, thegovernment will make an effort for the same...We will try to bring in welfare schemes based on scientific data," Tejashwi Yadav said.
Yadav also thanked former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister late Mulayam Singh Yadav and late Sharad Yadav for supporting the idea of a census.
Sharing insights into the survey findings, he said, "64 per cent are backward and 20 per cent are SC, STs. This data shows that roughly 85 per cent are from the marginalised section of society. This has come before everyone in the country. Our fight has been for social justice and economic justice, to bring to the mainstream those who are weak."Speaking on the way ahead for the Bihar government, the Deputy CM said, "The government will make an effort to make social welfare schemes based on this scientific data. We will make special schemes for those caste groups who are poor, though poverty exists in every caste."Pushing for a nationwide caste-based census or similar census in other states, he said, "If it has happened in Bihar, it should happen in the entire nation as well, even those ruled by the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership."Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP representing Wayanad Rahul Gandhi cited Bihar's demographics to argue for proportional representation.
"The Caste Census of Bihar has revealed that the OBCs, SCs and ST constitute 84% of its population. Out of 90 secretaries of the Central Government, only 3 are OBC, who handle only 5pc of India's budget. Therefore, it is important to know the caste statistics of India. The greater the population, the greater the rights- this is our pledge," he posted on X.
According to the data, Scheduled Castes make up 19.65 per cent and the Scheduled Tribes 1.68 per cent of the population of the state. The data also said that the Hindus comprise 81.99 per cent of the population, Muslims 17.7 per cent, Christians 0.05 per cent, Sikhs 0.01 per cent, Buddhists 0.08 per cent and other religions 0.12 per cent. The data said that Yadavs, the OBC group to which Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav belongs, is the largest and accounts for 14.27 per cent of the state's population. Kushwaha and Kurmi communities form 4.27 per cent and 2.87 per cent of the population, the caste survey said. Bhumihars constitute 2.86 per cent of the population, Brahmins 3.66 per cent, Kurmis 2.87 per cent, and Musahars 3 per cent.
The numbers stand in contrast to the quantum of reservation, which is 27 per cent that the OBC population gets in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions.
Notably, the total population of Bihar is more than 13 crore.
Although, the data has been published now but the journey of the caste survey wasn't smooth though.
Soon after its second phase began on April 15, the Patna High Court stayed the survey in May, saying the state wasn't competent to conduct the caste survey. Around three months later, the same court termed the survey "perfectly valid".
Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi has praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and called him the most loved leader of the backward and extremely backward classes.
He also claimed that the agenda for the upcoming general election has been set by this.
"Nitish Kumar has emerged as the most loved leader of the backward and extremely backward classes.... We salute Nitish Kumar for his initiative of the caste-based survey. He has done what others could not do...We want him to make awareness about the case-based census in all the states. This has also set the agenda for the next general election," said KC Tyagi.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh said that the Caste-census should be held in the entire country.
Commenting on the same, BJP leader and Minister of Rural Development of India Giriraj Singh said that the Caste Census is an eyewash and stated that it is nothing more than spreading 'Bhram' among the poor and public of Bihar.
"Caste Census will do nothing more than spreading 'bhram' among the poor and public of the state. They should have given a report card that Nitish Kumar ruled the state for 18 years and Lalu Yadav ruled the state for 15 years but did not develop the state. Report of Caste Census is just an eye wash..." he said.
Bihar Leader of Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha said that there is nothing new in the report; whatever was estimated is the same.
"The complete report of the caste-based census will come after the analysis... They have not done anything new... The assumptions that were already there, are in the report. They presented it as a miracle or a big change. Everybody already knows what you are saying. Everybody knows the data figures... When the area-wise data for OBC and extremely Backward class will come, then we will know the truth of the survey... This is for creating tension in Bihar. They don't have the mentality for the future, social harmony or development..." Sinha said.
However, Shafiqur Rahman Barq, an MP of the Samajwadi Party that is part of the INDIA bloc, has questioned the report on caste in Bihar asking about the need for the figures.
"What was the need for these figures at this time? They are looking at the elections next year and doing these activities. The nation wants service, development, education, and a better Prime Minister. None of this is there. They should be asked if you are running the country, what have you done for its development," the SP MP said. (ANI)