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After Bihar, Kar-Nataka on Release of Caste Census Findings: Cautious Cong Govt Weighs Options

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Moments after the Bihar Government released the caste census findings, leaders from the ruling Congress party in Karnataka have also demanded that findings of the seven-year-old Karnataka caste census (named socio-economic study of castes/religion) be made public immediately.

B K Harprasad, a senior Congress leader who is now disgruntled, posted a comment on microblogging site X (formerly Twitter), urging the Siddaramaiah government to make the findings public. His tone and tenor suggest it is imperative for the Congress government to release the sensitive data, which might change Karnataka’s socio-political landscape permanently.

Congress MLC Hariprasad BK posted: “Bihar which is governed by INDIA alliance has released its caste census. Rahul Gandhi Ji has spoken passionately about ensuring justice for the backward classes. It is now imperative for Karnataka to forthwith release the caste census conducted in 2017.”

Karnataka is now bracing for a caste census, which could potentially change its socio-political landscape permanently and turn state politics on its head.

The census, named Socio-Economic Survey, was held during Siddaramaiah’s previous term (2013-18) and its findings are in the “safe custody” of the government. Several groups had opposed the caste census, claiming the state government had no right to conduct such an exercise, following which it was renamed.

‘STATE SECRET’

The government is hesitant to make the findings public, calling it a “state secret”. After his defeat in the 2018 Assembly elections, Siddaramaiah’s successors – HD Kumaraswamy, BS Yediyurappa and Basavaraj Bommai – had flatly refused to release the caste census data.

The demand for the release has now pitted the OBC, SC/ST and minority leaders of the Congress against upper caste leaders of their own party. The powerful Lingayat and Vokkaliga MLAs, ministers and other leaders of the Congress are opposing the release fearing it might reduce their bargaining power, if the findings are not to their advantage.

The AHINDA (minorities, OBCs, SC/STs), which Siddaramaiah leads, are favouring the immediate tabling of the caste census data, arguing it will set many historical injustices right. They claim that their numbers are much more, and the census data will empower them socially, politically and economically.

Personally, Siddaramaiah is in favour of releasing the data, but political compulsions are not allowing him to take that decisive step. The upper caste leaders of the party fear that any such move might consolidate Lingayat and Vokkaliga votes completely in favour of BJP-JDS alliance and might lead to AHINDA versus upper castes fight in the state.

Reacting to this, Home Minister and Dalit leader Dr G Parameshwara gave an evasive reply, pushing the ball in Siddaramaiah’s court. He said: “My opinion does not count here. CM Siddaramaiah will consult everyone and will take a decision soon.”

LINGAYATS & VOKKALIGAS

In March 2018, News18 had accessed the leaked main findings of the survey and they have the potential to end the political hegemony of the two dominant upper castes in the state — Lingayats and Vokkaligas.

Since Independence, these two major castes have been controlling the levers of power, claiming to be the ‘top communities’ in the state. The two castes have always accounted for 50% of the MP and MLA seats from the state, irrespective of the party in power. The Lingayats even want to be recognised as a separate religion, a demand backed by the previous Siddaramaiah government.

According to the census data seen by News18, Dalits and Muslims outnumber Lingayats and Vokkaligas. The Scheduled Castes (SCs) account for 19.5% of the total population in the state, making it the single-largest caste entity. Muslims come next, making up about 16% of the population. These two groups are followed by the Lingayats and Vokkaligas, who make up 14% and 11% of the population, respectively.

Among the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the Kurubas alone account for 7% of the state’s population. Overall, the OBCs make up 20% of Karnataka’s population.

As per the data, SCs, STs, Muslims and Kurubas together form 62% of the total population, making it the strongest combination. Siddaramaiah’s AHINDA group would be the most formidable one in the state, forcing Lingayats and Vokkaligas to play second fiddle to them.

ALSO READ | ​BJP, Congress on ‘Caste’ Track: How Lingayats Can Make or Break Government in Karnataka

Alarmed by the findings, both the castes have joined hands to dismiss the findings as “fabricated to suit the political interests”.

Speaking to News18, national secretary of Veerashaiva-Lingayat Mahasabha HM Renuka Prasanna said there is “no way” they could accept the findings of the ‘caste census’. “According to Justice Chinnappa Reddy Commission, our population was 69 lakh in 1980s. We formed 16.92% of the total population. The Havanur Commission claims it was 17.23%. How can our population be just 14% after 30 years? If our population has decreased, then the state’s total population should also have decreased proportionately. But that is not the case. We have conducted our own caste census and our population stands at 1.20 crore. We make up around 20% of the total population,” he said.

He alleged that enumerators have not conducted the census in a fair and scientific manner. He said that Lingayat caste will support a new caste census if it is done in a fair and scientific way. He has also said that Lingayat and Veerashaiva caste leaders are planning to hold a joint meeting to oppose the current census and demand a fresh one.

The Vokkaligas are of the same opinion. A senior Vokkaliga minister in the government told News18 that the community accounts for 16% of the population, not 11%. Deputy chief minister and KPCC president D K Shivakumar himself a Vokkaliga is not in favour of releasing the data.

A Vokkaliga bureaucrat said that if the findings are true, it can end Lingayat and Vokkaliga hegemony in the state. “It is alarming. If it is true, SC, STs, Muslims and Kurubas will decide the fate of Karnataka. Our 70-year hold over the state will be weakened,” he said.

‘JUST RUMOURS’

CM Siddaramaiah has refused to confirm the findings, saying nobody has the exact caste figures and that these were “just rumours”. “I can’t comment on this. Who has made it public? No one has released it. It is all pure speculation,” he has told the same many times in the past seven years.

The state’s Congress government is in a dilemma on whether to release the data. Some argue that if they make the details public, the Vokkaligas and Lingayats may join hands to take on the government, and it may even lead to socio-political unrest.

Secondly, the BJP might make the growth in Muslim population an election issue during upcoming Parliament and local bodies elections.

According to the ‘caste census’ data leaked by some, Dalits form 19.5% of the state’s population, tribals 5%, Muslims 16%, Kurubas 7%, rest of the OBCs 16%, Lingayats 14%, Vokkaligas 11%, Brahmins 3%, Christians 3%, Buddhists and Jains together 2%, and the others account for 4%. And the Karnataka Government is flatly refusing to confirm these figures dismissing these “leaked” data as imagined.

Karnataka’s total population is around 6.41 crore. Of them, about 5.21 crore are registered voters.





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12 Wagons of Freight Train Derailed in UP’s Amroha, Oppn Attacks Centre

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Visuals from the accident site in UP’s Amroha. (X)

Work to restore movement of trains on the section is underway and is expected to be completed by Sunday morning, officials said

Twelve wagons of a Delhi-bound freight train derailed near the Amroha railway station in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening, officials said. No one was injured in the accident.

The mishap just comes three days after eight coaches of the Chandigarh-Dibrugarh express passenger train derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda. At least four people were killed in the accident while 31 were injured.

Moradabad Division’s Senior Deputy Commercial Manager (DCM) Aditya Gupta said that “12 wagons of a goods train derailed just after crossing the Amroha railway station around 5 pm”.

The Northern Railway CPRO said the accident happened at the Amroha Yard on the Ghaziabad-Moradabad section, disrupting train movement on the route.

Several Trains Diverted

Fifteen trains have been either diverted or cancelled, railway sources said. “In the meantime, trains on this route are being diverted via Ghaziabad, Hapur and Gajraula,” Gupta said.

Work to restore movement of trains on the section is underway and is expected to be completed by Sunday morning, officials said.

The official further said the freight train “was coming from Uttarakhand and was headed for Delhi, and the contents of the wagons which got derailed are not known”.

Congress Targets Railway Minister For Recurring Train Accidents

Soon after the incident, the Congress party dug up an old tweet regarding a train accident from Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and asked him to pin the post in light of such recurring rail mishaps.

The tweet said “Heading to the accident site” and the opposition party asked the minister that he should keep it as his pinned social media post as he has to use it repeatedly.

The grand old party also posted a video of the train accident and alleged that the Modi government’s negligence ruined the condition of the Indian Railways.

“During the Modi government, news of train accidents used to come every few days, but now such news is coming every day. The government’s negligence has ruined the railways, which are called the lifeline of the country,” Congress wrote on X.

In one such similar incident, a wagon of a goods train derailed between Valsad and Surat stations in Gujarat on Friday but there were no reports of anyone getting injured, a Western Railway official said.

The traffic on the route, however, was affected due to the incident that took place near Dungri station around 3 pm, he said.

The train was heading towards Surat.





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Union MoS Jitin Prasada’s Car Meets With An Accident in UP’s Pilibhit

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Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of India Jitin Prasada. (PTI Image)

One of the cars in the minister’s carcade reverse banged the vehicle in which the Union Minister was travelling from the front

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of India Jitin Prasada’s car on Saturday met with an accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit. While the minister is reportedly safe, one person who was present in the car suffered minor injuries.

The crash occurred while he was on a tour of his parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit. The minister’s car reportedly collided with another vehicle in his convoy.

One of the cars in the carcade reverse banged the vehicle in which the Union Minister was travelling from the front.



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‘Bihari Itna Aage Hai to Bihar Itna Pichhe Kyon’, Asks Chirag Paswan

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Union Minister Chirag Paswan. (Image: PTI/File)

Once a sharp critic of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Paswan said the ruling NDA will fight the next assembly elections under Kumar’s leadership

Union minister and Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan has asked the Bihar government to set a precedent by taking stringent action in cases of crime and the recent spate of bridge collapses, asserting that the state needs the vision to move up the development ladder.

Once a sharp critic of Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar before both allied with the BJP, Paswan said the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will fight the next assembly elections under Kumar’s leadership but flagged a host of issues which, he suggested, has stymied the state’s growth.

The assembly elections in Bihar are due to be held in 2025-end. “Bihari itna aage hai to Bihar itna pichhe kyon? (If Biharis are doing so well, then why is Bihar so behind?) We need to find an answer to this question,” Paswan told PTI, highlighting how people from the state in different fields, from elite government jobs to the private sector, have done well after migrating.

“The problem is that a vision needs to be there and it needs to be implemented,” he said, stressing that efforts should be made to stop migration from the state.

Ahead of the Union budget presentation on July 23, Paswan said he supported the demand for special category status for Bihar.

However, he noted that the NITI Aayog’s recommendations go against granting the demand and said an alternative like a special package should be given to the state.

Asked about the collapse of nearly 15 bridges in Bihar in recent months, a development which raised questions about the quality of development work and made the state a magnet for jokes and memes on social media, Paswan said it is a serious issue.

“This shows that somewhere corruption has taken place. Compromises were made. I don’t want to get into the politics of who was in the government then. We are in the government now. It is our responsibility to make sure this does not get repeated. Whosoever is responsible should be held accountable and punished so that a precedent is set for the future,” he said.

Asked about his change of stand on Kumar, he said if he is part of an alliance, then he needs to be there wholeheartedly.

“I can’t be part of an alliance and have apprehensions also. Because that could have just damaged the alliance and would have affected our performance,” Paswan added.

The NDA won 30 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, with Paswan’s party achieving a 100 per cent strike rate by bagging all five seats it contested.

He added that Kumar as chief minister has done “really well” compared to the way the state was run under the previous RJD governments. “There is always a scope for improvement,” he said.

Curbing the crime rate can boost tourism, especially religious tourism, in the state, as people need to feel safe before visiting Bihar.

A grand temple in Sitamarhi for Lord Ram’s wife Sita and connecting the town, where the devout believe she was born, with Ayodhya can be a huge boost to tourism, he added.

He rued the lack of education infrastructure in cities of Bihar, noting that a large number of students from the state enrol in Kota’s coaching centres, many of whom are owned by Biharis.

A good number of teachers there are also from Bihar, Paswan said, wondering why such a model cannot be replicated in Patna, Muzaffarpur or Bhagalpur.

The state regularly suffers from drought and floods at the same time, the Hajipur MP said, calling for the inter-linking of rivers.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)



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