In a bold stride towards political transformation, Bihar’s Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, has initiated a monumental caste survey, according to Janata Dal (United) National General Secretary, Kapil Patil.
Recently, during a press conference, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi made a call to media professionals hailing from SC/ST/OBC communities to identify themselves. To the astonishment of many, only a solitary hand ascended. While Rahul Gandhi’s concern is both palpable and commendable, it is essential to acknowledge the historical lapses of the late Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, as emphasized by Patil.
Patil noted that, “Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi concealed the Mandal Commission report, and it appears that Rahul Gandhi is now seeking to amend this historic error after four decades.”
Previously, in 2002, Congress leader Digvijay Singh attempted to address the issues of Dalits and Adivasis through the Bhopal agenda, but his endeavors were met with dismissal by the party.
When the then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh advocated for OBC reservations, the Congress, led by Rajiv Gandhi, expressed concerns, despite being supportive of social empowerment. Presently, Rahul Gandhi has announced that Congress-governed states will conduct a comprehensive caste census, yet this announcement is, in essence, a move to rectify past transgressions, as articulated by the JD (U) MLC in Maharashtra.
Despite their profound differences, the “INDIA” initiative has successfully united political parties, showcasing their collective trust in Nitish Kumar.
Decades ago, the socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia managed to forge a coalition of ideologically divergent parties to counter the dominance of the Congress, even including the Jan Sangh at the time. Nitish Kumar, who imbibed the principles of leaders like Madhu Limaye, has carried on this legacy by uniting diverse political factions.
Nitish Kumar has consistently adhered to the ideologies of Gandhi, Ambedkar, and Lohia. He was the first Chief Minister to voice opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Those who question the validity of reservations often ponder whether elites within backward classes unduly benefit from them.
Addressing those opposing the caste census, the JD (U) leader queried, “How many media professionals truly belong to the SC, ST, or OBC categories?”
The Dravidian parties in the South and the Samajwadi Party in the North and Central India have consistently championed social justice. Whenever they assumed power, they ensured that political influence translated into empowerment for the most marginalized sections of society.
Notwithstanding constitutional reservations, the SCs and STs have remained somewhat excluded from political power. Progress in the holistic development of these communities remains limited. Even after the implementation of the Mandal Commission, which allocated 27 percent of reservations to OBCs, their representation in the central administration remains under four percent.
It’s imperative to recognize that the caste census extends beyond mere enumeration. It is a comprehensive assessment encompassing economic, educational, and social indices within the OBCs. Its primary goal is to foster holistic growth and enhance representation. In this regard, Nitish Kumar’s initiation of the caste survey is a significant step forward.