Following the release of Bihar’s caste census, the political spotlight in Madhya Pradesh has shifted to the OBC (Other Backward Classes) community, which constitutes approximately 52% of the state’s total population. This demographic shift is influencing the strategies of major political parties, especially the BJP and Congress.
Post census, a political tussle has ensued between both parties. While Congress’s former Chief Minister, Kamal Nath, pledges a caste-based census if elected, the BJP treads cautiously around the issue. Historically, OBC reservation has sparked debates in the state.
Notably, in 2022, after a legal victory, the BJP-led government conducted municipal elections with a 14% OBC reservation, a figure that has seen fluctuations over the years. To address OBC reservation concerns, the BJP established the Backward Class Welfare Commission, which confirmed that 52% of the state’s population and 48% of its voters are OBC.
Although the government pushed for a 35% OBC reservation in the Supreme Court, it was granted only 14%, ensuring total reservation doesn’t exceed 50%. The contention now spills over to the Women’s Reservation Bill, where including OBC reservation has become a point of contention.
At the national level, the central government has shown hesitance towards a caste-based census. This sentiment was cemented on September 23, 2021, when the government informed the Supreme Court of its decision against conducting a socio-economic caste census, citing administrative challenges.
This reluctance stems from the BJP’s perspective that such censuses bolster regional parties, potentially at the expense of national parties. Opposition parties, sensing an opportunity, are pressing the issue.
With upcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, the representation of OBC candidates has become pivotal. Political analysts await the parties’ candidate lists to gauge their strategies and commitments to the OBC community.