Y Satya Kumar
BJP National Secretary
The recent special session of Parliament saw Union Home Minister Amit Shah announcing that census would be ordered soon after the 2024 general elections to fix quota for women. Surprisingly, the Congress and other Opposition parties have been demanding the Centre to conduct caste-based census too.
The Opposition parties – including the Congress and other outfits that had demanded Mandal Commission in the past – have been practising caste politics not knowing what would be their fate after the elections.
To gain an upper hand over the then deputy PM Devilal, the then PM VP Singh, during 1990s, fomented trouble among castes. Within a week of removing Devilal from the Union Cabinet, VP Singh accepted the Mandal Commission recommendations reserving quota for the OBCs in government jobs, shelving the practice of discussing it first with the National Front Coordination Committee.
VP Singh did not take it up with the BJP, the National Front partner. In fact, the BJP was not against reservations. At its national executive held on Oct 1, 1990, the BJP was in favour of quota for the socially and educational backward classes.
The then BJP leaders Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani cautioned the government against the dangers of taking a decision solely on political considerations without discussing it with NF partners and without thinking about economically backward classes. As per their prediction, the law and order situation became fragile claiming lives of many and causing severe damage to the properties.
Rahul Gandhi, who along with leaders of the grand opposition alliance INDIA, who has been demanding caste-based census, perhaps did not know the fact that his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi shelved the Mandal Commission’s recommendations.
In 1979, Morarji Desai government appointed a five-member commission headed by former MP and a Socialist leader from Bihar Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal. When Indira Gandhi was PM, the Mandal Commission submitted its report in December 1980. It recommended 27 % quota in government jobs and educational institutions for the OBCs.
However, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi who succeeded her as the PM did not show any initiative to implement the recommendations. While in the opposition, Rajiv questioned, “Should the benefits of quota be availed by ministers, their sons and their families alone?” The BJP, Communist Parties and the Congress have reached an understanding on exclusion of the creamy layer from beneficiaries of quota. The Supreme Court also defended the creamy layer concept.
The Congress on one hand opposed the Mandal Commission Report and on the other, it failed to implement the quota for the OBCs. The BJP’s stand on rendering justice to backward classes is always the same. Objective of Modi is not only providing political representation for the BCs but also extending benefits of the welfare and development schemes to them and poorest of the poor in society.
The BJP’s policy is to ensure comprehensive social justice but not merely social justice to these groups. The country does not provide quota on the basis of religion. Yet the BJP took several measures to provide quota and social justice to the most backward and poor Pasmanda sections of society. To render social justice to OBCs, Modi government constituted Rohini Commission on the categorisation of the OBCs. Out of the 3,000 OBC communities only 12 dominant communities are deriving benefits from reservations, it is learnt. Therefore, Modi government decided to end the discrimination.
Modi’s recent scheme Viswakarma Yojana benefits 18 kinds of crafts persons belonging to OBCs who work manually. Not only the PM Viswakarma Yojana implementation, but all other welfare and development schemes were ensured to reach the target groups only during the BJP regime.
In 10-year rule of Modi, 48-crore Jan-Dhan accounts were opened. Several social benefits are being transferred directly to beneficiaries. The BJP was not against the caste-based census, but it opposes politicising the issue to foment trouble among the castes.
It may be recalled that the BJP government supported the Nitish Kumar government twice when the resolution was moved on the floor of the Bihar Legislative Assembly twice. In 2021 July, the BJP government took a decision to reserve 27 of the seats in undergraduate courses, PG, Medical and Dental courses.
The BJP asked its ruled states to ensure that the constitutional quota for the OBCs is implemented in toto. Dalits, Adivasis and others voted for the BJP on a large scale as they believed that the BJP is rendering them social justice.
Because of the OBCs, the BJP got a poll percentage of 37.6. Out of the 303 LS members of the BJP, 85 are OBCs, providing 29% quota for the OBCs in Lok Sabha. The Modi regime extended constitutional status to OBC Commission. By bringing out 102nd constitutional amendment, the states are allowed to create their own list of OBCs. It should not be forgotten that Modi himself belongs to OBC community.
Then it is inevitable for the government to jettison the caste-based politics being practised by the Opposition parties.