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Bihar caste census and its aftermath: How RJD-JDU govt’s divisive politics is based on a sinister numbers game

The sole purpose of the RJD-JDU government in conducting a caste-based census in Bihar was to mobilise their core voter base and further caste fissures that would serve to strengthen their electoral prospects and undermine their political opponents.

The RJD-JDU alliance government in Bihar on Tuesday (28th November) released the school holiday calendar for 2024 excluding several Hindu festivals like Makar Sankranti, Ram Navami, Janmashtami, Rakshabandhan, Shivaratri and more. At the same time, holidays for Islamic festivals have been increased and special provisions for Urdu language schools have been made wherein Friday will be the new Sunday.

This controversial move has come a day after Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, while addressing the extremely backward Nonia community mocked UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu attire, calling Hindu symbols and sentiments as “dikhawa” (show off).

The controversies clearly indicate how the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government has used the caste census – released in October – to further its already casteist agenda. In an attempt to use the numbers to its advantage, appeasement politics is now at an all-time high and that too at the cost of the Hindu faith.

The contentious caste census data released

Caste-based census data was released in Bihar amid an atmosphere of celebration among the supporters of RJD and JDU, the two main ruling parties of Bihar. It was projected as if the state government had delivered some huge public welfare scheme.

According to the figures released by the Bihar government, 36.01% of the population in the state belongs to the extremely backward class. Whereas 27.12% population belongs to the backward class. The population of people belonging to unreserved or general category is stated to be 15.52%.

Keep in mind here that ‘Extremely Backward Class’ means the EBC community comprising 130 castes and sub-castes in Bihar, which has been on Nitish Kumar’s agenda for a long time. He had categorized it separately with the aim of mobilising non-Yadav backward castes.

It does not include OBC castes like Yadav and Kurmi. So now will two groups named EBC and OBC be formed and their mobilisation will be different? Only time will answer these questions but now joint fronts of different castes will start forming against the more influential castes in OBC as well. Such experiments have been done before, this may happen even faster now.

This way, if OBC and EBC are combined in Bihar, they comprise 63%. A total of 203 castes have been mentioned in this ‘Caste Census’ report. Of these, there are 196 castes which are getting reservations.

Till now, in the jobs of Bihar, EBC has got 18% reservation, SC has got 16%, BC has got 12% and EWS has got 10% reservation. Except for EWS, there is a 3% reservation for women in other reserved categories. Whereas 1% of seats are reserved for the ST community.

Another important point to note from the caste-based census of Bihar is that the Muslim community has also been divided into general, EBC and BC categories. For example, Syed, Shaikh and Pathan (Khan) have been kept in the general category.

Madaria, Nalband, Surjapuri and Malik Muslims have been placed in BC. There are about 31 Muslim castes in EBC. 10% of the total population of Muslims is EBC. Now it remains to be seen how these Muslims will benefit in the upcoming schemes ranging from reservation.

Bihar: What are the figures of caste-based census?

The Scheduled Caste (SC) population in Bihar is 19.65% and the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population is 01.68%. In this census, the total population of Bihar has been found to be 13.07 crores, out of which 6.41 crores are males.

Women are 30 lakh less than men. There are 953 females per 1000 males in the state. There are a total of 2.83 crore families, which are divided into 215 castes and sub-castes. If we look at the previous caste census conducted in 1971, the population of the upper castes has decreased.

Releasing the figures on behalf of the Bihar government, Development Commissioner Vivek Kumar Singh has said that these figures will be kept in mind in the future plans for ‘balanced development of all sections’.

It is also mentioned in these figures that 53.72% of people from other states are living temporarily in Bihar. There are some figures which the government has refused to publish, terming them confidential.

The big thing is that apart from the backward and extremely backward classes, the government has also included various groups of Muslims in the upper caste category.

While the population of Hindus in the state is 81.99%, the population of Muslims has reached 17.70%. The population of all other religions is not even 0.1%. Nothing has been said clearly regarding how the release of these data will help in policy-making, how the outline of the schemes will change and how the poor will benefit.

Let us also look at the population of castes in Bihar. Yadavs comprise 14.26%; Ravidas 5.2%; Koeri 4.2%; Brahmin 3.65%; Rajput 3.45%; Musahar 3.08%; Bhumihar 2.86%; Kurmi 2.80%; Mallah 2.60%; Bania 2.31% and Kayastha 0.60%.

The makers of the Constitution and the first cabinet of the country had decided not to conduct a caste-based census because it would create division in the society. Notably, this census has been conducted by those who cite the Constitution in every conversation.

Bihar’s ruling party RJD has also confirmed that this data includes general, backward and extremely backward classes of all religions. That is, not only Muslims but also Christians and Buddhists have been adjusted in General, BC and EBC.

The party said that 10.60% of the extremely backward class population are Muslims. It is not being made clear what was the criteria for assigning categories to these religions.

Caste census is a priority in a backward and poor state

It has definitely become clear that the data will be used politically in the time to come. The biggest thing is that the entire government machinery was put to work just for the sake of conducting a caste-based census in a backward state. Many officers were given different responsibilities. For this, 2.34 lakh census workers and 40,726 observers were appointed. If you are thinking that separate temporary recruitments were made for this, then you are wrong.

The responsibility was given to those teachers, whose job is to teach children and prepare a better future for the country and society. However, these teachers were assigned the work of asking people about their castes. District and sub-division level officers were given responsibilities. More than Rs 500 crore was spent on this. That too in a state that is at the bottom in terms of GST collection. Not only this, Bihar is the only state where GST collection is in negative in terms of growth.

Talking about the figures of GST collection for September 2023, it was Rs 1.62 lakh crore for the country. Most of the states saw a double-digit jump percentage compared to last year, while in Bihar it declined by -5%. This shows that the state is lagging behind in terms of development. Instead of working on this, the RJD-JDU coalition government gave priority to the caste census. The leaders of the state, who do not want development to take place, do not show any seriousness about development, now their priorities are also clearly visible.

The emergence of caste-based parties and casteist mentality

Now let’s talk about where this caste-based census mentality came from. In fact, it started when regional parties started forming in India on the basis of caste. RJD and SP – take these two parties. Both these parties, established in the nineties, made the Yadav caste their vote bank. Similarly, RLD, formed in the nineties, made the Jat community its vote bank. Today many such parties have been formed.

Take Bihar itself where Upendra Kushwaha has formed a new party several times to woo the Koeri voters. Mukesh Sahni takes a dig at the Nishad community by calling himself ‘Son of Mallah’. The big turning point in the politics of Nitish Kumar himself came when he reached ‘Kurmi Chetna Rally’.

Ram Vilas Paswan kept a large section of Paswan voters associated with his party LJP. If we talk about UP, while SVSP stakes claim on Rajbhar society, Apna Dal focuses on keeping Kurmi voters in its fold. It now has been divided into two parts.

Not to forget the BSP in UP, which made the Jatav community its main vote bank and later added other Dalits. Similarly, Sanjay Nishad keeps trying to improve the seafaring community through his ‘Nishad Party’. Dushyant Chautala’s JJP in Haryana also attracts Jat voters there.

Earlier, INLD founded by Devi Lal was considered to be the party of Jat voters in Haryana. In this way, there was a glut of caste-based parties in India and everyone started appeasing their respective castes.

Now since parties like RJD and JDU have progressed on the basis of caste, it is an impossible task to remove caste from their functioning. RJD enjoyed the cream of power by forming the Muslim+Yadav (MY) alliance for a long time. JDU continued doing politics through the ‘Luv-Kush’ (Kurmi-Koeri) pitch. In such a situation, they got a caste census conducted to understand and brainstorm their vote banks. Now they will play the game of appeasement accordingly and strengthen their vote bank.

Conspiracy of caste-based census to divide Hindus

Another reason for conducting a caste-based census is to divide Hindus. In the Modi wave, the air of casteism went away and in 2014 and 2019 it has been seen that people of all castes rose above caste and voted in the name of Narendra Modi. The same thing happened in Bihar, that’s why RJD-JDU lost in 2014 and RJD in 2019. These parties were looking for a way to deal with this and have used caste-based census as a weapon to divide Hindus.

It is not that there are no castes among Muslims, but the fight over caste in the Muslim community has not been the same as that within the Hindu community. Therefore, it is clear that a game of dividing Hindus has been played through caste census. The major castes of Muslims are Shaikh 3.82%, Ansari 3.54%, Surjapuri 1.87% and Duniya 1.43%. But, there is no possibility that Muslims will be divided on the basis of caste, especially in Bihar.

The question can also be asked that the state has been ruled by the same leaders for the last 33 years who are talking about caste census today, how did the state lag behind so much? Why were the castes left so far behind? What was the impact of ‘social justice’ in the last 33 years? 33 years is a long time.

If everything is not fine in this, then what is the guarantee that everything will be fine with the new manoeuvres of these ruling parties? Power has been in their hands for 3 and a half decades, do they have any positive results to show from what they have done so far?

If you see Rahul Gandhi’s tweet, everything becomes clear. He wrote that the population of ‘OBC + SC + ST’ in Bihar is 84%. He took special care that the population of Hindus should not be mentioned, nor should this word be used. Rahul Gandhi termed the pledge of Congress as ‘As many populations, as many rights’. Now many Muslims are asking that after their share in the population is 18%, why is no one talking about their share in resources and positions?

Politics of sowing poison in social media with the help of caste census

The leaders who are shouting ‘IT cell-IT cell’ for BJP should go on social media and see what IT cell is. As soon as the caste-based census data was made public, there was a barrage of tweets calling Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav as messiahs. Here let us look at some such handles that presented it as if a new ‘Silicon Valley’ has been created in Bihar, where lakhs of people have got jobs in big companies.

Alok Chikku, associated with RJD IT cell, started the trend with the hashtag ‘Jio Tejasvi’. He raised the question that despite such a small population, why are there upper castes everywhere? He announced that now ‘there will be social justice’, the classes that have been ruling for centuries have lost their senses.

However, Lalu Yadav and his supporters have also been saying that ‘social justice’ happened during his 15 years of tenure. Then was that a lie? Alok Chikku announced that everything would be snatched from the upper castes and distributed among the backward classes.

Similarly, see the tweets of Jackie Yadav, who calls himself a socialist, who counts the caste of the players after every match of the Indian cricket team. Describing these figures as historical, he enumerated its entire history. Giving the slogan ’15 vs 85′, he threatened that if you don’t give your rights then OBC will snatch them away.

He also gave a party to his friends. Also posted a tweet saying that the sales of Burnol have increased. He also complained about the presence of more people from the general category in the central government secretaries and judiciary.

Similarly, propaganda journalist turned RLD leader Prashant Kanojia, while talking about the removal of encroachment on resources and land, wrote that ‘war has been declared’. Another RJD activist Priyanshu Kushwaha called a special session of the Bihar government and demanded to increase the reservation limit. He gave the slogan ’15 is divided, 85 is our share’.

Casteist leader Dilip Mandal, while demanding immediate all-party consensus on increasing SC reservation, said in a threatening manner that neither any party will oppose it, nor will any court have the courage to get involved in it.

You can now see how the atmosphere for all this was created. RJD’s Manoj Jha, while reciting the poem ‘Thakur ka Kuan’ in Parliament, talked about killing the ‘Thakur within’. Chetan Anand of his own party opposed him. After this, a series of statements and reactions started.

RJD added fuel to the fire by calling Bhikhari Thakur and Karpoori Thakur as ‘real Thakur’. Caste census data was made public by creating an atmosphere of fighting between Brahmin vs Rajput.

Can the threats from the supporters of these parties be taken seriously? The question is – what do they mean by ‘every snatching’ or ‘removing control over resources’? Because, whatever society educated and rich people are in, they have resources.

Suppose, if someone is a golden person and he spent his entire life and bought land with his hard-earned money, will his land be snatched away in the name of ‘share’ and ‘removal of encroachment’? This will again be the Bihar of the nineties, where Naxalites used to openly commit massacres.

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अनुपम कुमार सिंह
अनुपम कुमार सिंहhttp://anupamkrsin.wordpress.com
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