'All For It': Fresh twist in UP's OBC policy Deputy Chief Minister Maurya supports demand for Caste Census

K P Maurya
Fresh twist in UP's OBC policy

Despite the Uttar Pradesh government not announcing a caste census in the state, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Keshav Prasad Maurya on Saturday supported its demand, saying he was "all for it".

This can be seen as a major turnaround in the state's OBC policy as the BJP-led state government has hinted that it will follow the lead of Bihar, where a caste census has been announced.

"I am in favor of it," said Keshav Prasad Maurya while interacting with reporters on Saturday, adding, "neither I nor my party is in opposition on this issue." When asked about states declaring caste counts, he said, "It is the prerogative of every state. What can I say?"

Especially in 2022, when Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav raised the demand for a caste census in UP, BJP countered that Akhilesh Yadav did nothing when he was chief minister for five years till 2017 and never demanded a caste census from UPA. The government was headed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a PTI report said.

The main purpose of the Caste Census is to identify the caste groups that are represented or underrepresented. This would help the government shape the implementation of social justice.

"How do I know if they are acting against the constitution?" Maurya answered questions about the caste census in Bihar, though he made it strictly clear that he and the BJP were not opposed to the demand.

Meanwhile, a caste inquiry is underway in Bihar. The state government decided to conduct the survey in June last year after the Center made it clear that it did not want to include castes other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the census.

The Jogi government conducted a "samajik nyay (social justice)" inquiry in its first term, although the inquiry commission's report, which outlined greater representation for underrepresented Dalits and OBCs, is yet to be implemented. The Hindustan Times report claimed caste censusn– the scientific enumeration of castes that was last done in 1931 (a caste enumeration was also done in 2011, but its data was not shared). A census of castes in Uttar Pradesh has been a long-standing demand of the SP. In its manifesto for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the party promised to conduct a caste census in the state within three months if voted to power.

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