Uttar Pradesh backward class welfare minister Om Prakash Rajbhar is a vocal proponent of breaking up the 27 per cent quota earmarked for the OBCs in government jobs and educational institutions into three subcategories—‘backward’, ‘extremely backward’ and ‘most backward’. He tells Bhavna Vij-Aurora about the formula he has worked out, based on the extent of backwardness and population of communities.
What is the significance of the proposed quota within quota for OBCs ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls?
It is not a new proposal and has been in the works since 2001. It is high time it was implemented in UP. Twelve other states, including Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, have implemented it successfully. It is a must that all communities get a fair share in the social justice system. It is also important that it gets implemented before the Lok Sabha election. Amit Shah has assured that it will get implemented six months before the polls. He is the BJP president and we have no reason not to believe him. He said six months earlier so the information can percolate, before the election, to the grassroots level, to people on the fringes who have been denied their rightful share for decades. Even chief minister Yogi Adityanath has announced it in the Assembly.
You think all communities aren’t getting their fair share?
Absolutely not! The dominant OBC castes—Yadav, Sonar, Jat and Patel—are hogging the benefits of reservation in a proportion much higher than their population. Based on figures that were given in the Allahabad High Court in 2013, Sonars have availed 61 per cent more benefit than what accrues to them according to their population; Jats have got 51 per cent more and Yadavs, nearly 50 per cent more. The same is the case among the Dalits. The Jatavs, Chamars and Jhusiyas have cornered 90 per cent more benefits of SC/ST quota than what their population entails. In the process, the other backward and weaker communities have been relegated to the sidelines without getting the benefits due to them. We only want them to get their due.
What is the source of these figures that you have quoted?
The then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav wanted to recruit 41,610 personnel in the police force in 2013. The matter somehow reached Allahabad High Court. The court told the state that all backward communities should get the benefit of reservation and not just the dominant ones.
What’s your formula for the 27 per cent OBC quota?
You can call them backward, extremely backward or most backward, or categorise them into ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ as suggested by Samajik Nyay Samiti (social justice committee) set up by then then chief minister Rajnath Singh in 2001. Category A can include dominant castes like Yadav, Ahir, Sonar, Jat et al; B can include extremely backward communities like Maurya, Kushwaha/Koeri, Shakya and Saini; and category C can include the most backwards like Mallah, Nishad, Badai and Lohar. According to me, based on the 2011 census, the dominant castes should get about five to six per cent from the 27 per cent quota, the extremely backward category should have seven to eight per cent quota, while the most backward category should get maximum 13-14 per cent share.
Non-Yadav OBCs like you had supported the BJP in big numbers to enable the victories in Lok Sabha in 2014 and the UP assembly in 2017. Do you think the BJP is losing their support as seen in the bypoll results?
The backward castes, including the extremely backward and most backward, left the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party to support the BJP. They were promised a fair share after dividing the reservation quota. If that doesn’t happen before the election, there is no telling which side the backwards will go.
People are talking about the return of ‘Thakurvaad’ with Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister. Do you think that is another reason why OBCs are feeling uncomfortable?
When SP was ruling, there was talk of ‘Yadav-vaad’. Under BSP, there were charges of ‘Dalit-vaad’. Now there is talk of ‘Thakur-vaad’. All I will say is that ever since Amit Shah visited Lucknow last month, there has been an improvement.