Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

UP: Caste Census Demand Grows Louder; SP Members Protest in Assembly

The SP leadership has decided to hold public meetings across the state to lend more weight to its demand for a caste census on the lines of Bihar.
up assembly

Image Courtesy: PTI

Lucknow: The budget session of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly was adjourned for half an hour on Friday when Samajwadi Party (SP) legislators squatted in the Well of the House, shouting slogans against the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and demanding that caste census should be conducted in Uttar Pradesh on the lines of Bihar.

It all began with a question by SP member Sangram Yadav, who wanted to know whether the state government would hold a caste census before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. 

Replying to the question, agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi said the subject of the census had been listed at serial number 69 of the Union list of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India. He said the Union government had enacted the Census Act 1948 and Census Rules 1990, adding that the subject of holding a caste census was thus within the purview of the Union government, not the state government.

When some SP members pointed out that the Bihar government was already conducting a caste census, the minister said Uttar Pradesh was way ahead of Bihar. “We will not like to make (a) Bihar of Uttar Pradesh,” said Shahi.

Though this is not the first time it has raised this demand, the SP leadership has now decided to hold public meetings across the state to lend greater weight to its demand for a caste census.

Leader of opposition and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, during his address in the Assembly on Thursday, had attacked the UP government saying that the slogan of 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' had no meaning without a caste census.

Aware of the importance of caste politics in UP, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), too, has backed the demand. Party leader Mayawati has asked the Union government to undertake the exercise across the country.

"The caste census should be held not only in UP but across the country. At the same time, they should come up with accurate caste-wise population figures. For that, the Central government will have to come forward," a BSP statement read.

In the past, too, Mayawati has raised the demand for a nationwide caste census. “BSP supports the demand of the OBC (Other Backward Classes) community for a caste census. Due to ‘jatiwadi mansikta’ (casteist mentality), the Centre is ignoring the demand,” she had said in November 2021.

Sudhir Panwar, SP leader, former member of Uttar Pradesh planning commission and professor at Lucknow University, while speaking with NewsClick said: "Instead of development, the government is giving more importance to religious euphoria and pride to divert people's attention, but sooner or later it will have to accept it as “smokescreen” of progress and development. The ‘all Hindus are one’ narrative created by the saffron party will not last for long. The way BJP has given 10% reservation to the EWS (economically weaker sections) category without constitutional provision was not right. Furthermore, BJP is afraid of conducting a caste census in UP as they want to isolate the main opposing party as after that the party will have to share power on the basis of caste.”

All three key opposition parties in UP -- Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Apna Dal -- have their own leaders.

The caste enumeration, according to Panwar, may, however, turn out to be a double-edged sword.

"The data that the caste-based census can yield may help governments’ welfare schemes reach the most backward and deprived castes who have been marginalised till date,” he added.

Panwar said the Justice Rohini Commission had favoured caste-based census and sub-categorisation of 27% quota in four categories in its interim report submitted to the government in February 2021.

The Rohini Commission also said that of the total 2,633 OBC castes included in the Central list of OBCs, the creamy layer of 100 castes cornered almost the entire benefits of reservation and over one-third castes got no benefit.

The OBCs and the SCs (Scheduled Castes) together account for around 60-70% of UP’s population. The census is held in the country every 10 years but the last caste-wise enumeration was carried out in 1931 and the same data is taken into account for various purposes even today. Around 40-50% of UP’s population is estimated to be OBC while the SC population was counted at 20.7% in the 2011 Census.

Amit Pandey, a political commentator and professor at Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University, told NewsClick: "A caste-wise tabulation of the census is necessary to achieve the objective of social justice because without knowing the numerical strength of various castes, it is not possible for governments to plan and execute welfare policies for them in the right way.”

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram