Now, BJP ally Apna Dal demands caste-based census, separate ministry for OBC welfare
The demand assumes significance just months before the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the single largest chunk of voters belongs to the OBC category
LUCKNOW: With the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections due early next year, parties are out in the state political landscape to woo the backward classes as much as they can. The latest BJP ally to join the chorus is Modi minister Anupriya Patel-led Apna Dal (S).
However, off late, BJP allies like JD(U) and Jiten Ram Manjhi of Bihar are demanding caste census. Opposition parties like Samajwadis and Bahujan Samaj party have also been demanding the same.
Making a demand to carve out a separate ministry for OBC welfare, Ashish Patel, the husband of Union Minister Anupriya Patel, said "caste based census is imperative to ascertain the exact population of each segment of society, especially the backwards."
Notably, OBCs make a major chunk of 54 per cent of the total population of Uttar Pradesh and make a huge votes base.
He said the population of SC and ST have been calculated in all censuses post-Independence but not of the OBCs.
"As a result, there is no proper estimate of the OBC population. Therefore, I request the government that the next census should be caste-based to ascertain the exact population of each segment, especially the OBCs."
He also put forward the demand for a separate ministry for the welfare of the OBCs like minorities.
Apna Dal(S) has been a constituent of the NDA since 2014. Anupriya Patel, the daughter of the party's founder late Sonelal Patel, was made Union minister in recent Union cabinet expansion.
She belongs to Kurmi caste which falls in the OBC segment. Her party has influence over around 50 assembly seats, mostly in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
At present, Apan Dal (S) has nine MLAs in UP Assembly as they had contested the last 2017 assembly elections in alliance with the BJP. Similarly, this BJP ally has two MPs in Lok Sabha.