It will take a couple of days more to unravel the truth whether it was a coincidence or a well-designed plan of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to detain dozen of journalists to deflect the attention of the nation and its people from the impact the report of Bihar caste survey would have on the future of BJP and the politics of India.
Arrests of the journalists just a day after placing the report in public domain has created huge ripple in the political circle. While the constituents of INDIA block were in celebration mood, after the caste census survey on Bihar was out, the BJP and RSS leaders were in a state of shock and plunged in deep despair. Some BJP leaders tried to find temporary solace by asserting that it did not reflect the real picture prevailing at the ground level. They held that the total population of upper caste people was more than 16 per cent as reported by the survey.
Even if one subscribes to their claim, the population of the upper caste people are not around 50 per cent as they have been claiming till date. The RSS is sceptical of the future prospect of its hundred year old slogan “India is Bharat and a Hindu Rashtra”. Till the announcement of the report, the Sangh was emphatically claiming that the backwards were Hindus. They were not a separate identity. Now this report has torpedoed their claim. After this report, RSS and Modi nurse the apprehension, the OBC, especially the EBC would prefer to delink itself from Hindus. This would eventually prove to be a severe shock to Sangh as it would flatten their slogan of 80 and 20.
Confident that mainstream media, , would lash out at the report, as being divisive and detrimental to the national security and integrity, RSS, Modi and Shah zeroed on the independent journalists as they have been acting as the conscience of the people and putting question to the rulers. RSS, Modi and Shah nursed the view that this section of journalists would prove to be source for their embarrassment.
Obviously, a police action against the journalists was the only intrigue to refrain them from disseminating peoples’ views on the report. The trustworthiness and integrity of the Delhi police which in recent years has touched nadir due to its anti-people actions and is also being perceived as the most communalised police force in the country has nevertheless tried to justify its action by saying that it was looking into the Chinese financial support to News Click.
But this is absolutely a dishonest ploy to hide the real intentions. If the Delhi police is really sincere and true to its public claim of enforcing transparency, one will certainly expect that it would clarify its stand about two very prominent faces of the country, Modi and Adani, who have received Chinese funds; one for PM Care Fund and other for his business.
What is most intriguing is neither the Home Minister nor his ministry, under whose command the Delhi police operates, have uttered a single word on the detention and arrests of the journalists. In fact it would be naïve to expect a word from the minister or his ministry, as the operation could not have been undertaken without their consent.
It is significant that the operation was carried out the very next day of the release of the finding of the caste survey in Bihar. It also incidentally coincided with the declaration of Odisha government to make public its report on caste survey. The population figures for the OBC and especially for the EBC make certain that the focus of the future politics would shift on EBC and will force not only Bihar but other states to revise the reservation policy to increase the quota for Backward Classes.
The report released just six months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, would also erode the support base of Modi. RSS and BJP over the years to cobble an alliance with the OBC, EBC and other backward classes on the precinct of their being Hindus. The survey report has exposed this lie of Sangh. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has been taking extra pains to club the backward castes with Hindus only to serve the class interest of the RSS, which is a body of the Brahmins and strongly advocates the Brahminical ethos and tenets.
On the surface, it is perceived that caste findings would inflict severe damage to the electoral prospect of Modi. But in reality this would shatter the Hindutva edifice that RSS was trying to build. Irrespective ofLok Sabha poll results, the emergence of the new caste sensibility would chock the growth and expansion of the RSS.
The findings of the Bihar caste survey will usher in politics revolving around the EBCs in the state and in adjoining Hindi speaking states especially Uttar Pradesh. The RSS and BJP which have reluctantly agreed to continue with the existing reservation for the OBC, will have to face fresh demands for higher reservation for them and EBC.
The report has already put Modi and Bhagwat on defensive. Voices having making rounds in the social and political circle seeking to know what Modi during the last ten years has done for them. One development is quite significant to note that EBCs, who have strongly supported the party were deprived of all the government schemes and benefits. While OBC by virtue of their political strength by aligning with the regional parties like SP, JD(U), RJD forced the BJP to concede to their demands, the RBC were virtually ignored. The Bihar survey, which pegged the state’s OBC population at 63 per cent including 36 per cent EBCs, has triggered questions on what the BJP has done for the uplift of the EBC classes.
If Modi intends to procure the votes of the OBC and especially the EBCs, he would have to reorient his priorities and launch pro EBC programmes and policies in a more pro-active manner. One thing is absolutely clear that BJP has emerged as a powerful bloc because of the support of the EBCs. This section was carried away by the slogans of nationalism of the BJP. Yet another reason for EBC rallying behind BJP was their nurturing the impression that BJP, which was striving to expand its base, would take care of their of class and caste interest. But it does not appear to fructifying.
An impression dominated the political discourse earlier that OBCs were the largest caste block. Now the report makes it explicit that EBCs dominate the population scene. Obviously to halt the BJP, the caste survey data will be utilised by the Opposition parties to question the BJP on its performance in helping the EBCs progress socially and politically. The politics in Bihar has largely been dominated by the general castes and the forward OBCs like Yadavs, Kurmis and Kushwahas. Now, there will be mobilisation for greater representation of EBCs in politics and administration.
Rahul Gandhi had already made it public that 95 per cent of upper caste bureaucrats were running the government and deciding the fate of the 140 crores of the people of the country, out of which at least 80 per cent belonged to the OBC and EBC sections. The RSS has been using the upper caste bureaucrats and officers to expand and broaden its base.
According to the caste survey data released by the Bihar government on Monday, OBCs constitute 63.13 per cent of the state’s population of over 13 crore. This includes 36.01 per cent EBCs. The Scheduled Castes constitute 19.65 per cent and the Scheduled Tribe account for 1.68 per cent of Bihar’s population. The unreserved section or the forward castes make up 15.5 per cent of the population.
There is no denying that new caste data would further bolster the demand for an increase in reservation for OBCs. Nationally, the SCs, STs, OBCs and the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) are entitled to 15 per cent, 7.5 per cent, 27 per cent and 10 per cent reservation, respectively, in government jobs and admission to educational institutions. Quota shares vary from state to state for state-level government jobs and admission to state government-run institutions. Bihar offers a quota of 15 per cent to SCs, 1 per cent to STs, 34 per cent to OBCs, including a sub-quota of 18 per cent for EBCs, and 10 per cent for EWS. The primary reason offering less number of reservation was the lack of the correct population figure. Now, the data has come. This has strong message across the country that there was imperative need to amend its reservation system to give greater benefits to the OBCs and EBCs.
The report underlines that the total population of backward castes, Dalits is round 84-85 per cent. The Dy CM of Bihar Tejashvi Yadav said “Our fight has been for social justice. Now it is the time for economic justice, the time to bring the weaker sections to the mainstream. The government will strive to make welfare schemes for the poor on the basis of the scientific data that we have got now. One of the main demands of the INDIA alliance is a caste census in the entire country,”
CPI general secretary D Raja was candid in his observation “Data from the caste survey in Bihar is revealing of the composition of society. This data will help the government in making policies accurately with concrete understanding of deprivations. Such exercises are needed in other states too for scientific and evidence-based policy making”. (IPA Service)