Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Bihar government on Monday released a state-wide caste-based survey that accounts for 36.01% of its population in the extremely backward classes (EBC) and 27.12% in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
The data was released by Vivek Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary, on Monday. According to the survey, while the state has a population of 13 crores, only 15.52 per cent belong to the general category. The Scheduled Caste comprises 19.65 per cent and the Scheduled Tribe accounts for 1.68 per cent of the total population.
The survey also stated that Yadavs, the OBC group to which Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav belongs, was the largest in terms of population, accounting for 14.27 per cent of the total. While Brahmin accounted for 3.65 per cent of the population, the Kurmi caste came to 2.87 per cent. The Bhumihars were 2.86 per cent while the Rajputs were 3.45 per cent. The population of Musahar is 3 per cent.
The controversial Bihar Jaati Adharit Ganana was released after much legal hurdles with the Nitish Kumar government maintaining that it was crucial for social justice. The survey process began last year after the Centre made it clear that it would not be able to undertake a headcount of castes other than SCs and STs as part of the census.
The Central Government approached SC against the move, filing an affidavit which said "no other body under the Constitution or otherwise is entitled to conduct the exercise of either census or any action akin to the census".
The Bihar government maintained that it had completed the door-to-door survey and the Supreme Court refused to stay the Patna High Court’s order giving the go-ahead for a caste survey in Bihar.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took to X to share his response to the release of the survey. "Today, on the auspicious occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, the data of the caste-based census conducted in Bihar has been published. Many congratulations to the entire team engaged in the work of caste-based enumeration!"
He added that the proposal for caste-based enumeration was passed unanimously in the Legislature. "Caste-based census not only revealed the castes but also gave information about the economic condition of everyone. On the basis of this report, further action will be taken for the development and upliftment of all sections," he added.
Nithish's coalition partner RJ(D) too hailed the survey, calling it a historic moment. "Today on Gandhi Jayanti, we all have become witnesses of this historic moment. Despite many conspiracies of BJP and legal hurdles, today Bihar government released the caste-based survey. These figures will set an example for the country in making holistic planning for proper development and progress of the deprived, neglected and poor and in giving representation to marginalized groups in proportion to the population," former Bihar CM and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav told reporters on Monday.