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UP aspires to be ‘Uttam Pradesh’, not Bihar: Minister Surya Pratap Shahi on caste census demand

Responding to SP MLA on whether Uttar Pradesh will conduct Bihar-like caste census, the state agriculture minister said his government doesn't want to put state 'in reverse gear'.

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Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh has made strides and the government does not want to pull the reverse gear and put the state on the same course as Bihar, UP Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said in assembly Thursday.

“Uttar Pradesh now wants to become uttam (top of the line) pradesh in its own way. And now, with the effort of sabka saath, sabka vikas, sakba vishwas aur sabka prayas (BJP’s slogan for inclusive development), we want to make it the best state in the country,” he said.

Shahi was responding to a question posed by Sangram Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party MLA from Phephana, who asked the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government if it has plans to conduct a Bihar-like caste census in UP before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Yadav asked the government how it aimed to formulate and implement schemes without any caste-specific data on “the backward community”.

“I demand that just like our neighbouring state Bihar is conducting a caste census using its own resources, the UP government should also do it….when PM himself has been repeating in public meetings that he wants to see backwards benefitting and that they made a tribal the president,” he said.

Seeking details about the number of backwards in the Allahabad High Court, the Supreme Court, central universities, and the state secretariat, Yadav asked the UP government if it has any plans to conduct a caste census before the Lok Sabha elections next year and whether it will “work towards justice for the backwards and the Adivasi community”.

In response, Shahi said the census is a Union subject under Article 246 of the Constitution and that it is listed on number 69 in the Seventh Schedule.

“The central government has also formulated an act and guidelines for the same. Hence, this falls under the purview of the central government. UP has now moved far ahead, we don’t want to take it in reverse gear, towards Bihar. The way there is anarchy, corruption in Bihar, the way there is familism in jobs, and even fodder is being eaten up there….UP does not want to move on that path now,” he said.

The minister was referring to the multi-crore fodder scam case which led to the arrest and subsequent indictment of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, along with several former ministers and IAS officers.

Shahi further said that the government doesn’t want to take UP in the direction of “states which are suffering from backwardness and narrowmindedness”.

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‘All parties in favour of caste census’

The opposition Samajwadi Party has been raising the demand for a Bihar-like caste census in the state in a bid to convince its voters that the party is moving ahead with its agenda of “social justice”.

On Monday, SP MLAs led by party chief and former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav staged a protest in Vidhan Sabha during the governor’s address to a joint session of the assembly, demanding that the government conduct a caste census in UP.

Though this is not the first time it has raised this demand, the SP leadership has now decided to hold public meetings across the state to lend greater weight to its demand for a caste census starting Friday.

Reiterating the demand in his response to the governor’s address, Akhilesh said Thursday that leaders of all political parties including BJP ally Apna Dal (S), O.P. Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samajwadi Party (SBSP) and SP ally Apna Dal (Kameravadi) wanted the caste census.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: How Yogi govt banked on ‘UP growth story’ pitch to woo diaspora — MoUs ‘worth Rs 55,015 cr’ likely


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