LUCKNOW: In a major decision with far-reaching ramifications just ahead of upcoming by-poll to 12 seats followed by the bigger battle of 2022, Yogi Adityanath government, on Friday night, released an order asking all district administrations to issue SC certificates to 17 Most Backward Castes (MBCs) in consonance of Allahabad High Court order of 2017.
The GO, issued by Secretary, social welfare, Manoj Singh, makes it clear to the respective DMs that the SC certificates would be issued to deserving members only after verification based on relevant documents. It says the decision has been taken in compliance with the High Court’s order. In fact, the Allahabad High Court had said in its March 29, 2017 order that the SC certificates could be issued to the members belonging to those 17 Most Backward Castes but it would be under the purview of the final order of the court.
The demand for SC status to the 17 most backward castes — Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhivar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjul and Madhua — has been pending for a long time in the state. Though Yogi government’s move is being seen more as a cosmetic ploy to woo MBCs (13% of backward population) as inclusion of castes to existing SC list is a tedious process, yet it is bound to benefit the BJP in upcoming electoral battles by stripping the regional satraps of their clout.
While the decision will consolidate BJP’s position among backwards, it will blunt the perpetual attack mounted by ex-ally OP Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) over the issue as he had making similar demand for long. This decision may further drift MBCs away from other political players like SP and BSP with proximity to the BJP.
“It had been our long-standing demand. It is now taking shape under Yogi Adityanath. This is the first step towards the bigger goal,” said Dr Sanjay Nishad, chief of NISHAD (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal) who had ditched the SP to join hands with the BJP during 2019 LS polls.
However, the inclusion of new castes in the notified SC list is a lengthy process. It makes it imperative for the state to send a recommendation. Then the Centre has to present it as a bill to amend existing SC list in Parliament. Only after getting the Parliament’s nod, it becomes an Act through which more castes could be added to the existing SC list. At present, UP has 66 castes notified as scheduled castes and if the process of inclusion of 17 more gets through, the state will have 83 notified scheduled castes with 15% quota provision.
But it won’t be such a smooth sailing for the Yogi government on the issue as the proposal may witness resentment from the existing castes in the list. They may demand expansion of the existing SC/ST quota limit of 22.5 per cent (15 % for SC and 7.5% for ST) to accommodate the new inclusions. Even earlier governments including that of Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2004, Mayawati in 2007-12 and Akhilesh Yadav in 2016 had tried to execute the same policy but failed because of the non-cooperative Centre and then the issue became sub-judice. However, Mayawati made efforts with the rider that any inclusion of new castes to the existing list should be done only after increasing the SC quota limit.
In 2016, Akhilesh Yadav, as CM, got a resolution passed for the same process in the state assembly but it was challenged by an organisation Dr BR Ambedkar Granthalaya avum Jankalyan in Allahabad High Court and the Centre remained non-committal. However, in 2017, the Allahabad High Court asked the state government to issue the SC certificates to the 17 MBCs for some relief till the final orders in this regard were delivered by the court.