BHUBANESWAR: With the constitutional amendment bill passed in both houses of the Parliament restoring the rights of states to draw their own backward classes lists, the ruling BJD on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, joined the bandwagon of demanding a caste-based census to determine the strength of socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) and other backward classes (OBCs).
While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been persistent with the demand, the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC) has cleared the decks for a socio-economic and caste census covering the entire population of the state. Several BJP allies including the Apna Dal have also demanded a caste-based census.
The BJD also reiterated its demand for a caste-based census for SEBCs/OBCs and a Central law to do away with the reservation limit of 50 per cent (pc) for the benefits, welfare and all-round upliftment of these sections of people. The Odisha Cabinet on January 11, 2020, had passed a resolution for conduct of a Socio-Economic Caste Enumeration simultaneously along with the General Census in 2021. It had also moved the Centre on the issue.
A delegation of BJD MPs met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and submitted a memorandum with a strong plea for a Central law empowering states like Odisha to provide more than 50 pc reservations as per the State’s needs. This will enable the government to provide full reservations for SEBCs/OBCs, they added.
The BJD also assured the Centre of full support for taking immediate steps for the constitutional amendment. The Union Home Minister appreciated the views of the BJD MPs and the meeting turned out to be very positive and proactive, sources said.
The MPs said the BJD led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wants to provide 27 pc reservation for SEBCs/OBCs, but various judgements of the Supreme Court and High Court have repeatedly have come in the way.
The BJD also wants appropriate columns to be inserted in the current census of 2021 for enumeration of caste-based data of SEBC/OBC categories so that 27 pc reservation is provided to them based on data from the census. The MPs said due to lack of data and ceiling of 50 pc reservation policy, provisions made by different states to do justice to the SEBC/OBCs have been struck down by different courts.
The memorandum requested the Centre to make necessary amendments to overcome the 50 pc ceiling imposed by the court and do justice to the SEBC/OBC communities considering their proportionate share in the population for all-round inclusive growth of the society. Individual efforts of the states without a constitutional amendment will not help the cause of the SEBCs/OBCs, it added.
The urban local body (ULB) polls are also hanging fire in Odisha for the last three years after the Orissa High Court struck down more than 50 pc reservation of seats, which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court.
Besides, the High Court has also struck down the government’s move to provide 27 pc reservation for SEBCs through the Odisha Reservation of Posts and Services (For Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) Act, 2008.