Bihar - The release of Bihar's long-awaited caste survey report has ignited a political firestorm in the state, with the ruling Mahagathbandhan coalition and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) engaged in a war of words over the data's implications.
The report, which was presented to the state assembly on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, provides a comprehensive breakdown of the state's caste composition, including socio-economic data. This is the first time in India that a state has conducted a caste survey since the 1931 census.
The Mahagathbandhan, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has hailed the report as a landmark achievement, saying it will help in formulating policies for the upliftment of backward castes. However, the BJP has criticized the report, alleging that it has been manipulated to inflate the population of certain castes, particularly the Yadavs, a politically influential group in the state.
BJP's Attack on the Report
BJP leader and Union Minister Amit Shah, during a recent rally in Bihar, called the caste survey report a Chalawa (illusion) and accused the Mahagathbandhan government of engaging in politics of appeasement. Shah alleged that the state government deliberately inflated the Yadav population while reducing the numbers of backward and extremely backward classes.
RJD Counters BJP's Claims
Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and the leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the largest party in the Mahagathbandhan, has strongly countered Shah's claims, stating that if they were true, Nitish Kumar should have inflated his Kurmi caste population in the survey. Yadav challenged Shah to explain the basis for his claims about population inflation and reduction among certain castes.
Political Implications of the Report
Political observers believe that the caste survey report has the potential to significantly impact the political landscape of Bihar. The Mahagathbandhan is likely to use the report to consolidate its support among backward castes, while the BJP will try to counter it by appealing to upper castes and Hindu sentiments.
The report could also have wider implications for Indian politics, as it could revive the debate over reservations and affirmative action.
Key Findings of the Report
The total population of Bihar is 13.7 crore.
Extreme Backward Classes (EBCs) make up 36% of the population, while Other Backward Classes (OBCs) make up 27%.
Scheduled Castes (Dalits) make up 19% of the population, and Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis) make up 1.68%.
The Hindu population is 81.9%, followed by 17.7% Muslims.
Chief Minister Kumar's Kurmi caste population is 2.87%, and RJD chief Lalu's Yadav caste population is 14.26%.
The release of Bihar's caste survey report has opened up a new chapter in the state's politics. It remains to be seen how the Mahagathbandhan and the BJP will use the report to their advantage, and what impact it will have on the future of Bihar and Indian politics.