In a surprise move, the Narendra Modi government at the Centre has reportedly told the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government to stop issued caste certificates to the 17 OBC caste members. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said that UP government’s move is ‘not appropriate’ and ‘unconstitutional’. A day before, BSP Chief Mayawati had slammed Yogi Adityanath government over its move to include 17 OBC castes in the Scheduled Castes list. “It's a fraud with people belonging to these 17 castes, as they won't receive the benefits of any of the categories as UP govt will not treat them as OBCs. And they won't receive the benefits of belonging to SC as no state govt can put them in or remove them from any of the categories through its orders,” Mayawati said at a press conference on Monday.
She had also said that it was her party that had written to the Centre in 2017 over this issue. “Our party had written to the then Congress government at Centre in 2007 that these 17 castes be added to Scheduled Castes category and that Scheduled Castes category reservation quota be increased. So that benefits received by castes in SC category don't diminish & the 17 castes that'll be added to the category also receive benefits. Had made such demands in past. Saddening that neither current govt at Centre nor the then govt at Centre did anything about it,” Mayawati added.
The decision was taken by the Uttar Pradesh government last week. The castes that have been added into this list are - Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bhar, Dhivar, Batham, Machua, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Pottar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Tuhaha and Gaur, which previously belonged to the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category.
The process to issue caste certificates to members of the 17 MBCs, which were included in the SC list, could not have come at a more appropriate time in Uttar Pradesh, though the issue was raised for the first time in 2005 and remained mired in controversy. The move is likely to give the BJP an edge in the upcoming assembly bypolls in 12 constituencies in the state in the wake of several MLAs getting elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent parliamentary elections, say political observers.