Union Home Minister Amit Shah has dismissed the findings of Bihar’s caste survey and alleged that the population of some sections have been inflated to enable them to get more benefits than their due.
Addressing a rally at Patahi in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Sunday (5 November), Shah said that the survey was doctored to show a sharp increase in the population & proportion of Muslims and Yadavs at the cost of non-Yadav Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs).
Muslims and Yadavs (the M-Y combination) form the core vote bank of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which is the largest constituent of the ruling mahagathbandhan in the state.
The Union Home Minister, while dubbing the caste survey a chhalawa (illusion), said that the results of the caste survey were manipulated to show an increase in the percentage of Muslims and Yadavs. “The percentage of non-Yadav OBCs and EBCs has decreased,” said Shah.
This has unnerved the RJD, Janata Dal (United) and the Congress. They fear that the non-Yadav OBCs and EBCs — sections which the three parties have been desperately trying to woo — will get angry.
An examination of the findings of the caste survey, say senior bureaucrats who have access to the data, reveals that the population percentage of Muslims and Yadavs has indeed increased while the percentage of some other castes listed in the OBC and EBC categories have decreased.
There have been many allegations of enumerators leaving out households and entire neighbourhoods, and incomplete data being collected.
“Coming from the Union Home Minister, such an allegation will definitely find resonance and will sow the seeds of doubt among non-Yadav OBCs, the EBCs and other sections of Hindus. More so since voices from the non-Yadav OBCs and EBCs have already questioned the results of the survey,” former RJD leader Satish Yadav, who retired from active politics a few years ago, told Swarajya.
Even while enumeration for the caste survey was on, many had complained that they and their family members had been left out. Most of these complaints have been reportedly voiced by people belonging to the EBC and (non-Yadav) OBCs. A large number of upper castes had also complained about being left out of the survey.
But the state government had done nothing to address those complaints and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had doggedly maintained that the survey, whose results were partially unveiled early last month, is flawless.
But JD(U) leaders have been worried about the decline in the percentage of EBCs and some non-Yadav OBCs.
“We are getting considerable feedback that a substantial number of families have been left out and that the data revealed by the survey do not reflect the actual percentage of some castes. This is cause for concern as it can trigger a backlash,” said a senior JD(U) leader, who holds a top organisational post in the party.
Sanjay Jaiswal, the former president of the BJP’s Bihar unit, told Swarajya that the Union Home Minister’s allegation was based on “incontrovertible evidence”.
“We have received a huge number of complaints from OBCs and EBCs, as well as some sections of Dalits, stating that the survey has shown that the percentage of their population has declined when that is not the case at all. This entire survey has been manipulated to serve the political ends of the RJD and Nitish Kumar has been a helpless accomplice,” said Jaiswal.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said that an increase in the proportion of Yadavs and Muslim OBCs and EBCs would entitle them (the Muslims and Yadavs) to a larger share of benefits — reservations in jobs and seats in educational institutions — than what they deserve.
“Nitish Kumar is aware of what has happened, but he is helpless. He is totally at the mercy of Lalu Yadav (the RJD supremo). So he cannot raise his voice against the flawed survey and its doctored results,” said Modi.
The RJD and JD(U) leaderships are aware of the damage that the revelation — that the percentage of Muslims and Yadavs has been deliberately increased — can do. If this impression gains ground, it will alienate large segments of OBCs and EBCs. That would do a lot of damage to the prospects of the mahagathbandhan in the Lok Sabha and state assembly polls next year.
That is why leaders of both the parties got into a damage control mode soon after Amit Shah’s rally.
Lalu Yadav’s son Tejaswi, who is the Deputy Chief Minister, countered the Union Home Minister’s charge. “If he believes that the findings of the caste survey are wrong, what stops him from conducting a nationwide caste survey?” asked Tejaswi Yadav.
JD(U) national president Lalan Singh echoed Tejaswi Yadav. “Let Amit Shah order a nationwide caste survey before criticising Bihar’s survey,” he said. Singh said that the BJP had always opposed the survey and is finding it difficult to “digest hard facts” now.
But, contended BJP state president Samrat Choudhary, both Tejaswi Yadav and Lalan Singh have skirted the grave issue raised by the Union Home Minister.
“They (Yadav and Singh) never said that the Union Home Minister’s allegations were false. That’s because they cannot dispute what Amit Shah said. It is a fact that the survey results show the population of Yadavs and Muslims have increased much more in comparison to other OBCs. According to the flawed survey, the percentage of Muslims and Yadavs have also increased, thus entitling them to a greater share of reservations at the cost of other OBCs and EBCs,” said Choudhary.
The BJP, much to the consternation of the ruling mahagathbandhan partners, has planned a series of programmes all over the state to educate people about the flaws in the caste survey.
“We will point out how the survey has been manipulated to benefit only the Muslims and Yadavs. We will mobilise the masses against this blatant appeasement of the RJD vote bank,” said Choudhary.
What has also jolted the RJD and JD(U) is Amit Shah’s challenge to the mahagathbandhan to make someone from the EBC the chief minister. “The survey shows that EBCs are the largest segment (36 per cent) of Bihar’s population. If the RJD and JD(U) are serious about social justice, they should make an EBC the chief minister. I challenge them to do this,” said Shah.
The BJP plans to persist with this demand. That can upset political equations within the mahagathbandhan and put the RJD’s first family (of Lalu Yadav) at disadvantage.
The Union Home Minister’s charges of Bihar sliding back to the earlier jungle raj (lawlessness) during RJD’s rule has also raised hackles within the RJD and JD(U).
Shah said at Sunday’s rally that Nitish Kumar betrayed the mandate of the 2020 assembly elections which he (Kumar) had fought in alliance with the BJP.
“People voted for the NDA (of which the JD-U was a constituent at that time) in order to bring back the rule of law in Bihar and put an end to the murders, kidnappings etc. But by joining hands with the RJD, Nitish Kumar has betrayed that mandate,” said Amit Shah.
Crime rate in Bihar has gone up and murders, dacoities and kidnappings are being reported with increasing frequency. The general perception is that Bihar is again sliding into the grip of crime syndicates who used to rule the roost during the RJD rule in the state.
JD(U) leaders are, naturally, worried. The BJP’s plans to highlight the flaws in the caste survey and increasing lawlessness in the state has unnerved them.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!