Bihar's caste survey out: OBCs, EBCs nearly two-thirds of population
The Bihar government on Monday released its controversial and much-awaited caste-based survey results, which revealed that Other backward castes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward castes (EBCs) constitute 63 per cent of the state’s population.
"The data of the caste-based survey conducted in Bihar has been released on the auspicious occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. The Bihar government conducted the survey from its resources. The survey provides information about the economic condition of everyone", Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in a statement on Twitter.
He also declared that "a meeting will be called and the data of the caste survey will be shared with all nine political parties in the state assembly soon".
The survey report released by the Bihar government suggested that the state’s population stood a little over 13.07 crores, of which the Extremely Backward Castes with 36 per cent is the largest followed by the OBCs which is 27.13 per cent.
The Yadavs are the largest in terms of population in the OBC category. The reports also revealed that the Dalits account for 19.65 and Scheduled Tribes (ST) is 1.68 per cent of the total population in the state.
The survey indicates that the majority community Hindu is 81.99 per cent while in the minority, Muslims 17.7 per cent. The other religions in the minority community are less than one per cent of the total population which includes Christians, Sikhs, and Jains.
While Chief Minister Nitish Kumar congratulated the officials for "successfully handling and releasing the results" the opposition BJP called it "eyewash".
BJP the main opposition party in Bihar is among the nine political parties that had backed the caste-based survey exercise in the state. Bihar BJP state president Samrat Chaudhary said that the party would assess the findings.
"The party will give a statement on the issue after studying the survey report", BJP state president Samrat Chaudhary said.
BJP which is the opposition in Bihar has a major electoral presence in the state. The party has been eying a large share of upper caste as well as OBC votes in Bihar.
Political experts said that caste-based survey report is likely to give a boost to the grand alliance especially the RJD which has strong backing from the EBCs, OBCs, Dalits and Muslims in the state.
The RJD feels that the caste-based survey in Bihar will pave the way for the Centre to conduct a nationwide caste census. While appreciating the Bihar government for the publication of caste survey results RJD Chief Lalu Yadav criticized the BJP for "creating hurdles" in the exercise.
"The Bihar government completed the exercise despite conspiracies and legal hurdles created by the BJP. The figures will help give representation to deprived and oppressed sections and make policies for their development", RJD Chief Lalu Yadav said.
The caste-based census has been a major political issue for both the grand alliance partners JD(U) and RJD. Earlier Bihar assembly passed a resolution twice in February 2019 and again in February 2020. The resolution was also sent to the central government with a request to hold a census based on caste.
However, demand was triggered in 2022 after the Centre clarified that it has no plans to hold surveys based on castes other than Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled castes.
In 2021, a delegation led by Nitish Kumar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to press the demand for a caste-based census in the country. Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav was also part of the delegation.