Eyeing national role, KCR pushes for caste census but not Bihar model

In October 2021, Telangana Assembly passed a resolution seeking caste wise census of the Backward Class to be conducted while holding the general census for 2021.

Hyderabad: While Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) has been supporting the demand for caste-based census, its government in Telangana may come under pressure from the backward classes (BCs) to conduct a survey in the state on the lines of the exercise being undertaken in Bihar.

Backward classes groups are demanding the K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR)-led government to issue an order to conduct the caste census of BCs in the state as the BJP-led government at the Centre is refusing to undertake the exercise at the national level.

As KCR has changed Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) into BRS to expand the party activities across the country, the BC groups feel that by taking an initiative for a caste census in Telangana, can send the right message to BCs across the country.

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These groups have even offered to extend help to BRS in other states if it comes out with an order to conduct the BC caste census in Telangana.

BC Sankshema Sangham national president Jajula Srinivas Goud has urged the KCR to take the initiative in Telangana as this would help him win the hearts of BCs in other states. “If a GO (Government Order) is issued for caste census in Telangana, we are ready to enlighten BCs and OBCs in states where BRS wants to contest,” he said.

He believes that by conducting a caste census KCR can build a national image. “He is trying to project the Telangana model before the entire country to expand BRS in other states. The caste census will further consolidate this Telangana model,” he said.

However, BRS has not yet reacted to this demand. Political observers say that the party has taken a stand in support of the caste census but it will tread cautiously on taking any step on its own which may politically boomerang.

The ruling party may skirt the issue in the run-up to Assembly elections scheduled later this year. Some leaders have already mentioned that the power of conducting the census rests with the Centre.

Chairman of Telangana State Commission for Backward Classes, Vakulabarnam Krishna Mohan Rao has demanded that the Centre transfer the subject to the concurrent list. He claimed that the state government is committed to conducting a caste census of BCs but it is for the Centre to facilitate this.

In October 2021, Telangana Assembly passed a resolution seeking caste wise census of the Backward Class to be conducted while holding the general census for 2021.

KCR had told the Assembly that BCs constitute nearly 50 per cent of Telangana’s population. He pointed out that various political parties and State Assemblies in the country had passed resolutions seeking caste census.

While introducing the resolution, the Chief Minister had said: “In view of the upliftment of poorer sections of the society, it was necessary to maintain accurate statistics for taking up various welfare measures for benefitting the poorest of the poor.”

“…Second Telangana Legislative Assembly hereby with a view to ensure that provisions of clause IV of Article 15, clause V of Article 15 and clause VI of Article 16 regarding the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens as also the provisions of clause VI of Article 243 D and clause VI of Article 243 E regarding backward classes of citizens urges the Central government that the caste wise census of backward classes of citizens be conducted while holding the general census for 2021,” reads the resolution.

KCR argues that the caste census, as part of the Census, is necessary to identify socially, economically, and educationally backward communities and increase reservations proportionate to their population.

He slammed the BJP government at the Centre for submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court, expressing its inability to take up the caste-based census in the country. He found a mismatch between the population and the reservation extended to Scheduled Caste (SCs) and said there was a need to increase the existing reservations for SC communities from the existing 15 per cent owing to a rise in the communities’ population.

He invoked Dr B.R. Ambedkar and said that the Centre must continue with the aspirations of the architect of the Indian Constitution to ensure social justice to the SCs

He pointed out that people belonging to the backward classes and scheduled castes (SCs) are also demanding a caste census. “The SC population was fixed at 15 per cent long back but with authority, I can say that it has now crossed 17 per cent. In some states it even crossed 19 per cent,” he said.

KCR had said that the population of SCs in Telangana was 17 per cent of the total state population, with about 18 lakh Dalit families living across the state.

“But in some districts such as Mancherial, the SC population is 26 per cent. It is 22 per cent in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district, 21 per cent in Jangaon, Khammam, Rangareddy, and Vikarabad, and 20 per cent in Karimnagar. Hyderabad has the lowest SC population with about 11 per cent,” he said, quoting the Samagra Kutumba Survey or comprehensive household survey, conducted by the state government in 2014.

The BRS leader has also found “fault” with the Modi government for not holding the census exercise in the country. He pointed out that the process of census began way back in 1871 and it continued uninterrupted till 2011.

He pointed out that even during the two world wars, it didn’t stop. KCR said that it’s only through census does a government know what the situation is in the country. He alleged that the Modi government is not conducting a census because it was afraid of people knowing the facts.

KCR argued that caste census of backward classes would help in evolving appropriate policies and programmes for their welfare.

“The Centre is saying it’s a sensitive issue. Why it’s a sensitive issue. We have a caste system in the country. Why should we be ashamed of it? Are the governments not issuing caste certificates,” he asked.

With the Congress party aggressively taking up the issue of caste census, KCR is also likely to be under pressure to come out with a strategy.

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