Caste census is complicated. Let the states do it first: K. Lakshman, National President,

The demand for counting of other backward classes (OBCs) is becoming a political hot potato for the ruling BJP. The party is committed to doing so, but the states must do it first, said K Laxman, national president of the BJP’s OBC front and former head of the party’s Telangana unit. Excerpts from an interview with Prerna Katiyar:

The BJP OBC front has been formed for almost seven years. What are its major achievements?

Since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, he has been working on ways to empower and uplift OBCs. In 2018, a historic decision has been taken to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). This was done 23 years after the implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission Before that the commission was almost toothless. Out of 27% (OBC quota) very rarely 14-15% can be saved. There was no check from any ministry or agency. Now, with constitutional status, recruitment in all government institutions has reached 22% in four years. Although the implementation process was started in 2006 in educational institutions, many did not implement it. In this academic year, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Naboday Pathshala, Law University and Sainik Schools have started giving preservation. About four lakh students have already benefited.

Since Modi came to power, he has given 27% reservation in NEET and benefited about 4,000 students. For the first time since independence, there are 27 OBC ministers in the cabinet, which is 40%. Earlier, the children of PSU employees did not get protection. They are getting it now. See the backlog posts: We have 42 central universities across the country and there are no 10-12 OBC professors. The excuse was not finding a qualified candidate. The backlog has reached 9,000. So, our Morcha (Education Minister) has met Dharmendra Pradhan who has instructed that all the backlog posts should be filled within a year. 3,000 posts have already been filled in 3-4 months.

If OBCs have 22% share in central government jobs, what percentage in educational institutions?

This is very low – only 10-12%. We want strict implementation of 26% quota. NCBC members have taken spontaneous action against some organizations. Millions of students would have benefited if it had been implemented in the last 10 years.

What about race census? Why is it so late to hold on?

We have some technical issues, legal issues and obstacles. There are many complications – in Bihar, Guptas are OBCs and they are forward classes in UP. In other states Brahmin Joshi is ahead but in Uttarakhand OBC. In Andhra Pradesh, the Reddies are ahead but behind Karnataka. Kamara is ahead of Andhra and Karnataka. So, we took a position that let the census be by state. Recently, the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill was passed, giving the states full power to identify which community is OBC because the Center is not aware of the status of one caste in the whole country. We are not saying no, but it needs to be studied thoroughly before conducting a national level survey.

Can we expect this before 2024?

This requires a thorough study.

What is the status of state-wise survey?
Only 4-5 states have done it. Karnataka did this when Siddaramaiah was the chief minister, but the results were not released as they found out that more than 60% of the population is OBC. Telangana has conducted a survey but did not disclose the facts. Now, Nitish Kumar keeps asking for it, but why can’t he do it in Bihar?

Creamy layer revision is also pending

The government has revised the income limit from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh. The review will happen soon.

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

It is the most unfortunate. Thus, we are denying the rights of OBCs and the underprivileged. This is being done in states where most of the regional parties are in power.

This should end. Last year, 50,000 posts were filled in the railways, of which 27% were for OBCs. Now separate VC funding has been created for OBCs. Modiji wants the youth of the country – be it backward, SC or ahead – to become a job seeker, not a job seeker. VC funds were limited to SCs during the Congress rule. Since 2019, we have allocated Rs 200 crore per annum for OBCs.

A four-member commission headed by Justice (Retd.) G. Rohini was formed in 2017 to examine the subclassification of OBCs. When can we expect a report? It received its 12th extension in January 2022.

The results of the report should be published within a month or two. They were also confused about the status of a community in different states. I also discussed it with him.

How will the BJP perform in the 2023 Telangana elections?

We have done very well in the Lok Sabha elections and by-elections. We are working to build teams in the state.

Now we have an alternative to Congress. In 2023, the BJP will form the government and the TRS will be defeated.

And will you be the Chief Minister?

No, it’s a team decision. We just want a double engine government like UP, Uttarakhand and Goa so that the Centre’s programs can spread.

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