After Centre’s rebuff on OBC inclusion, oppn builds pressure on UP govt
Hectic activity was witnessed at the chief minister’s office and social welfare department after union minister for social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on Tuesday rebuffed the Uttar Pradesh government for its decision to include 17 OBC sub-castes in the SC list calling it “inappropriate and unconstitutional”.
According to people familiar with the developments, senior officials met chief minister Yogi Adityanath to discuss the issue while the CM also spoke to Gehlot.
Opposition parties including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), a former ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), started building pressure on the government to clear the air on the 17 OBC sub-castes and if they were OBCs or SCs.
SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar said, “The UP government has opened recruitments in several departments. Now, the government must tell whether the students belonging to these 17 sub-castes should tick on OBC or SC category.”
“The UP government has already ordered that 17 sub-castes be included in the SC list but the Centre has declared the move unconstitutional which means they aren’t in SC list now. The government must break its silence,” said Rajbhar.
Earlier in the day, the BSP had raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha while the Samajwadi Party is also busy connecting with the OBCs telling them that the BJP government had played politics in their name.
Social welfare minister Ramapati Shastri was not available for comments even as the department’s officials, on condition of anonymity, indicated that the state government had apprised the Centre that it had acted in compliance with the orders of the high court.
Principal secretary, social welfare, Manoj Kumar Singh had on June 24 directed the district magistrates in writing to issue caste certificates to 17 OBC sub-castes in accordance with the interim order of the Allahabad high court.
Singh could not be reached for comments as his staff said he was busy in a meeting at the Lok Bhavan, the chief minister’s office.
A senior officer in the social welfare department said the order of issuing caste certificates was made as per the interim orders of the high court which had been approached in 2016 against the orders of the then Samajwadi Party government to include these 17 sub-castes in the SC list.
“Now, we will have to wait for the final orders of the high court before sending any proposal to the Centre,” he added.
Prior to 1957, all these 17 sub-castes were included in the SC fold until a senior officer of the social welfare department decided that the orders of 1935, through which these castes had been issued in SC certificates, ceased to exist.
“Consequently these 17 sub-castes in UP lost their SC status completely in 1996,” said Santram Prajapati of Dalit Shoshit Welfare Society.
These 17 sub-castes are among the most backward including Rajbhar, Divar, Kashyap, Kahaar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Tura, Godia, Kumhaar, Machua, Batham, Prajapati, Mallah, Manjhi and Bind and make up for nearly 14 per cent of the UP’s electorate.
In 2007, the then Samajwadi Party president and chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, eyeing the OBC vote bank, had first made an attempt to get these castes included in the SC fold.
He also got a survey of 14 districts done on the issue and sent the report to the Centre which asked for a state wide survey but before that could happen, the BSP came to power in UP.
The new BSP government recalled the SP government’s proposal to the centre but later said it was open to the idea of the inclusion of these sub-castes in SC category if the 22 per cent SC quota was raised.
The SP government which came to office in 2012 again took up the issue but the matter was challenged in court.