The caste census is complex. Let the states do it first: K Laxman, National Chairman, BJP’s OBC Morcha

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The OBC demand for registration is becoming a political hot potato for the ruling BJP. Party is committed to doing it, but states should do it first, says K Laxman, national president from bjp‘s OBC Morcha and former head of the party’s Telangana unit. Edited excerpts from an interview with Prerna Katiyar:

It has been almost seven years since the BJP OBC Morcha was formed. What are your great achievements?

Since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, he has been working on modalities for the empowerment and improvement of CBOs. There have been historic decisions, such as giving constitutional status to the National Commission for the Backward Classes (NCBC) in 2018. It was made 23 years after the recommendations of the Mandal Commission were implemented. Before that, the commission was almost toothless. It would be difficult to give a reserve of 14-15% of 27% (OBC fee). There was no control over any ministry or organization. Now, with the constitutional range, hiring has reached 22% in all government institutions in four years. In educational institutions as well, although the implementation process could start in 2008, many did not implement it. This academic year, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya pathshalas, law universities and Sainik schools have started giving reservations. Nearly four lakh students have already benefited.

After Modi came to power, he has given a 27% reserve in NINI and some 4,000 students have benefited. There are 27 OBC ministers in the cabinet for the first time since Independence, which is 40%. Previously, children of PSU employees did not get reservations. They are getting it now. Look at the backlog: in the whole country we have 42 central universities and there are barely 10-12 OBC professors. The excuse was that eligible candidates were not available. The order book had reached 9,000. So, our Morcha met with (Education Minister) Dharmendra Pradhan, who ordered that in one year all the backlogs be filled. In 3-4 months, 3,000 positions have already been filled.

If CBOs have a 22% share in central government positions, what is the percentage in educational institutions?

It is much less — only 10-12%. We want a strict implementation of the 27% quota. NCBC members took action suo moto against some institutions. If it had been implemented in the last 10 years, thousands of students would have benefited.

What’s the matter census issued? Why is there a delay in celebrating it?

We have some technical problems, legal problems and restrictions. There are many complexities: In Bihar, Guptas are OBC while they are advanced class in UP. Brahmin Joshis are forwards in other states but OBC in Uttarakhand. In Andhra Pradesh, the Reddy are an advanced caste, but they are backward in Karnataka. The kamas are early in Andhra and late in Karnataka. So we took a position that allowed the census to be conducted at the state level. Recently, the Constitution amendment bill 127 was passed, which gives full powers to the states to identify which community is OBC, since the Center does not know the status of a caste in the entire country. We’re not saying no, but it should be thoroughly studied before conducting a nationwide survey.

Can we expect it before 2024?

It needs a thorough study.

What is the status of the state survey?
Only 4-5 states have done so. Karnataka did it when Siddaramaiah was the CM, but the results were not published because they came to know that more than 60% of the population is OBC. Telangana has done a survey but after knowing the reality they did not publish it. Now Nitish Kumar keeps asking for it, but why can’t he do it in Bihar?

The revision of the creamy layer is also pending
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The income limit was revised from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh by this government. The review should happen soon.

A growing trend is to fill vacancies in the central and state governments by hiring contract workers. But that has no provision for reservation.

This is very unfortunate. In this way, we are denying the rights of CBOs and the oppressed. This is being done in states where most of the regional parties are in power.

This should end. Last year, 50,000 positions were filled in railways, with 27% for OBC. Separate venture capital funding for CBOs has now been created. Modiji wants the country’s youth, whether backwards, SC or forwards, to be a job creator and not a seeker. Venture capital funding was limited to SCs during the Congressional administration. Since 2019, we have allocated Rs 200 crore per year to OBC.

In 2017, a four-member commission headed by Judge (retired) G Rohini was created to examine the subcategorization of OBCs. When can we expect the report? He got his 12th extension in January 2022.

The report’s findings should be ready in a month or two. They were also confused about the status of a community in multiple states. I have also discussed it with her.

How will the BJP perform in the 2023 Telangana polls?

We did very well in the Lok Sabha polls and by-elections. We have been working to build the party in the state.

We are now an alternative to Congress. In 2023, BJP will form government and TRS will be routed.

And will you be CM?

No, it’s the party’s decision. We just want a twin engine sarkar like in UP, Uttarakhand and Goa so the Center programs can leak out.

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