Meeting in Memory of Karpoori Thakur Propels Caste Census to the Center Stage of Political Discourse

While V.P. Singh is credited with introducing OBC reservations in the government sector by implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations, it was Karpoori Thakur, the former Bihar Chief Minister, who set the tone for community reservations. In 1978, he introduced 26% reservation in the government sector, making him a forerunner of social justice in North India by mobilizing backward castes.
Meeting in Memory of Karpoori Thakur Propels Caste Census to the Center Stage of Political Discourse

Lucknow- Since the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government released caste survey figures on October 2, 2023, the issue of caste census has become a rallying point for opposition parties. The Congress Party, the main opposition party, has supported the caste census at the central level, while the BJP has been reluctant to oppose the demand. The Socialist Party (India) held a meeting in memory of former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, demanding a caste census and making it a national issue ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Farmer leader associated with the Socialist Party, Rajiv Yadav, said, "The issues of the rights of SC/ST/OBC are yet to be solved. The caste census figures have once again proved that there has been widespread discrimination against these groups, and their rights have been denied. The rights of the people cannot be addressed without the caste census. We are remembering Karpoori Thakur today as he was a forerunner in implementing caste-based reservations in Bihar and lent weight to the movement for social justice. Caste census can fulfill the dreams of great people like him."

K. P. Yadav, a speaker, said that merely raising slogans won’t be enough. The dichotomy of society is that people can protest against the vandalization of Ambedkar’s statue but don’t read Ambedkar. He said the practice today is of Murthi pe mala and Vicharon pe tala (garlanding the statues but not following their thoughts) which must be changed.

The Socialist Party (India) held a meeting in memory of former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, demanding a caste census and making it a national issue ahead of the 2024 general elections.
The Socialist Party (India) held a meeting in memory of former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, demanding a caste census and making it a national issue ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Academician Professor Mohd Osama said, "There is a lot of upward mobility abroad, and anyone can progress — a person can drive a taxi, study in college, become a CEO. But the marginalized sections of society are encumbered with historical baggage, and therefore, they are not able to play a front role in society despite the provision of reservation. Reservation should be implemented at a comprehensive level, or else, through partial implementation or random policies, nothing substantial would be gained."

Social worker Advocate Achal Siddharth Yadav said, "Our representation is negligible in every field; caste census can also provide us the information regarding our presence in different departments. The caste census, he said, will also help us to mobilize and unite our people. Demanding caste census at the national level, Shiv Kumar Yadav of the Yadav Sena said, "It is being said that in UP, the Brahmins are 12-14%, but similar things were said about them in Bihar. In the caste census, it was revealed that they are just 3-4%, but they have cornered 90% of the government sector. The Yadavs, on the other hand, are 14% of society in Bihar but have just 1-1.5% of the government jobs.

The press release by the Socialist Party (India) said, "The debate regarding the caste census has increased. The Congress Party has also started saying that it will conduct a caste census if it comes to power. The meeting has been called on the occasion of the Birth centenary of Karpuri Thakur to discuss how the castes among SC/ST/OBC, who have not been able to take advantage of the reservation, can take the benefit of reservation. The party upheld the division of reservation on the basis of the population of the caste and the sub-castes. On the issue of women's reservation, it said if there is a provision of 50% reservation, then there should be a division of 50% amongst both men and women in every category.

Karpoori Thakur: The Forerunner of Social Justice

Although V.P. Singh is credited with introducing OBC reservation in the government sector by implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations, it was Karpoori Thakur, the former Bihar Chief Minister, who set the tone for community reservations. In 1978, he introduced 26% reservation in the government sector, making him a forerunner of social justice in North India by mobilizing backward castes. His initiatives were not without opposition and had to face a lot of verbal attacks and criticism for introducing reservations. He implemented the Banwari Lal Commission report in 1977 and divided the OBCs into two categories - Extremely Backward Castes and Other Backward Castes, recognizing the differential advantages and disadvantages of sections within the OBC community."

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