The release of the caste survey data by the Bihar government will force political parties to realign their caste arithmetic in the wake of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. While the findings are on expected lines with other backward classes, extremely backward classes (EBCs), SCs, and STs forming 84% of the total vote bank, they would lead to a demand for proportionate representation of communities within the political parties in the ticket distribution for Lok Sabha and assembly polls. The dominance of upper castes (10.5% of the population) in ticket distribution is likely to decline in Bihar, with other blocks demanding their share armed with data.
As per the findings, the Muslim-Yadav segment remains a dominant factor with a 32% share. EBCs have been the swing factor in Bihar in several elections and that argument has been strengthened by the data showing 36% EBC population. It is this population where the fight is going to be between the BJP and the ‘INDIA’ bloc.
Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM is considered to have his hold over EBCs and the Maha Dalit (SC minus Paswan) vote bank. BJP is also working under the leadership of PM Modi to give a jolt to Kumar among EBCs. The fight for 2024 in Bihar would come down to who attracts the EBC voters to their camp. The data will also weigh on the bargaining power of smaller caste-based parties like HAM of Jitan Manjhi and VIP of Mukesh Sahni. With 3% Mushar and 2.6% of the Nishad population, both of these leaders will need more to convince the bigger parties to get seats.
With the caste numbers out, it would also lead to a demand to increase quota beyond the 50% cap as suggested by the Supreme Court, as the government claims the data have been collected using scientific methodology.
RJD leader Lalu Prasad said the government now should ensure that all sections of society have equitable rights over the resources of the state.
Former Bihar CM and HAM’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, in a post on X, demanded that the government increase the reservation as per the population.
Kumar has indicated that the government would make policy decisions based on the survey’s outcome
The survey could lead to demand for similar surveys across the country. Telangana and Karnataka have already completed similar surveys and pressure would be on these states to release data. Congress has promised to do a similar survey in Madhya Pradesh if the party comes to power.
Demands for caste census have been passed in the assemblies of Odisha, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand.
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav once again raised the demand for a nationwide caste census.
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