Ajit Pawar proposes caste survey in Maharashtra, cites Bihar’s example

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Monday called for a caste-based survey similar to the one conducted in Bihar, saying that it will help to give a clearer picture of the “exact population of Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities, general category”.

Notably, the BJP, with whom Ajit Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) faction has a coalition government in Maharashtra, has rejected any demands for a nationwide caste census. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had even criticised Congress’s appeal for a national caste census, saying it would “divide the country”.

While speaking at a public meeting in Solapur, Pawar said, “I am of the opinion let there be a caste-based census here. The Bihar government carried it out in that state. With such an exercise, we will come to know the exact population of OBCs, SCs, STs, minorities, general category etc as benefits are given as per proportion of population.”

The Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister said that he and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had asked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to provide details of the caste survey in Bihar.

Pawar said that he wanted the survey to be conducted even if it cost the state “some thousand crores”, as per news agency PTI.

The Deputy Chief Minister also spoke about the state government’s positive stance towards the quota demands of the Maratha and Dhangar communities.

However, he stressed that any increase in reservation should not affect the existing 62 per cent reservation (52 per cent for SCs, STs, and OBCs, and 10 per cent for Economically Weaker Sections).

“If reservation is given to Marathas and other communities from the existing 52 per cent, then those groups receiving benefits in this segment will be disappointed. Our efforts are to ensure quota provided above the 62 per cent at present is legally sustainable in the High Court and Supreme Court,” Pawar said.

Ajit Pawar also mentioned that quota activist Manoj Jarange has requested Kunbi certificates for Marathas to avail benefits under the Other Backward Classes category. However, this has led to resistance from existing OBC groups who do not want any additional community included in their segment.

The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government, on October 2, released the results of its caste survey, detailing the population breakup of various caste groups and communities.

(With PTI inputs)

Published On:

Oct 23, 2023


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