BJP support for OBC census
Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 04, 2010
First Published: 01:25 IST(4/5/2010)
Last Updated: 01:27 IST(4/5/2010)
Openly taking a line that has hitherto been associated with regional
parties, the BJP has come out in favour of an OBC headcount in Census
"We support a headcount for OBCs in the coming census," senior BJP
leader M. Venkaiah Naidu told HT on Monday. "What is wrong in having
details of the OBC segment of our population?"
"The government should know what the numbers of OBCs are in this
country," said Deputy Leader of the Opposition Gopinath Munde.
This comes at a time when the UPA — which had adopted a pro-OBC agenda
when Arjun Singh brought OBC quotas to higher education — has turned
the other way in its second avatar.
The government has not only rejected OBC census but is also on a
confrontation path with OBC leaders, refusing sub-quotas in the
women's Bill and not tabling the Ranganath Mishra report that calls
for minorities to be given part of OBCs' quota pie. For the BJP, this
is an opportunity to reach out to the Hindu OBCs as "their" party.
Munde, an OBC, has already denounced the Ranganath Mishra report as
anti-OBC and even called for OBC sub-quotas in the women's Bill.
There has been no caste headcount except for SCs and STs after 1931
and all population estimates for OBCs are just that: estimates. They
vary from 52% (Mandal Commission) to 40% (National Sample Survey).
The numbers are important for OBC politics, as they claim that they
constitute the majority of India and, so, have a right to claim their
share in power. They also argue that the government must know the
numbers to focus on OBC schemes.
The BJP had made inroads into OBC votes in UP in the 1990s, but has
lost them over time. It also threw out OBC leaders like Kalyan Singh
and Uma Bharti. However, the party has powerful OBC CMs in Narendra
Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
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