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Friday, June 14, 2024

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Cast in Stone


The release of the socio-economic data of caste census by the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar appears to have dealt a severe blow to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Hindutva politics. The Mahagathbandhan government, as the ruling coalition is called in Bihar, tabled the report of the caste survey in the state Assembly on Tuesday much to the chagrin of the saffron brigade as it, with help from its dedicated friends in the media, had earlier gone on a damage control drive describing the exercise as bogus and the findings manipulated to tarnish the BJP. That, however, did not deter the government from making the report public; it tore to shreds the narrative created by the BJP ecosystem that the party was the only well-wisher of the upper castes by making it clear that the section was not all that affluent. In fact, the findings indicate that around 30 per cent of the people belonging to four upper castes are actually poor and live in near-penury.

The report has revealed that more than a third of families in Bihar are poor and are surviving on a monthly income of Rs 6,000 or less, while 42 per cent of the SC-ST families live on the same income. As was to be perhaps expected, Union Home minister Amit Shah has cried foul and is in denial while accusing Bihar Chief Minister  Nitish Kumar of propagating falsehood. Such reaction was to be only expected because the survey’s findings clearly demonstrate the failure of the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ushering in prosperity, particularly in the state, contrary to its tall claims in this regard. Taking a cue from the caste survey conducted by Bihar, the preliminary findings of which were released on October 2, opposition parties have now started rooting for proportionate representation of  marginalised communities in getting their due rights.

The Sangh Parivar, particularly the RSS top brass, should be worried about the possible impact of the report on the OBC and Dalits who, having been with the BJP-RSS, now appear to be nursing thoughts of ending the honeymoon. This is certainly not encouraging news for the BJP with the next Lok Sabha election almost knocking on the door. It is still fresh in the mind of the people of the country how the BJP had nonchalantly described its promises as mere jumla (false promise) after having failed to deliver on these. On the other hand,  Nitish Kumar has increased the cumulative reservation to 75 per cent, a proposal that the state Cabinet put its seal of approval on the very day the report was tabled. It is now to be expected that other opposition-ruled states will follow suit, something that the BJP will certainly not be comfortable with ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha election.

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