Amidst calls to release the Socio-Economic and Education Survey, also known as the Caste Census, conducted by the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes in 2015-2016, dominant caste groups are uniting to oppose the report.
The report, which is expected to be submitted in November of this year, is unlikely to be made public before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, according to government sources quoted by The Hindu.
The Chairman of the Commission, Jayaprakash Hegde, whose tenure is ending in November, stated that the commission is currently finalising the report and will submit it by the end of November.
He confirmed that all the necessary data has been collected and the report is currently being prepared.
There is growing pressure on the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government to accept the census report, especially after the Bihar government released similar data.
The Congress party is demanding a nation-wide exercise to gather similar information. However, the Lingayats/Veerashaivas and Vokkaligas, who are the dominant land owning caste groups, are opposed to the report.
The leaked data suggests that the population of Lingayats/Veerashaivas is 14 per cent and Vokkaligas is 11 per cent, but these communities claim that their numbers are actually higher.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had repeatedly stated that his government would accept the report.
However, the report was ready in 2018, and since then, three Chief Ministers - H.D. Kumaraswamy, B.S. Yediyurappa, and Basavaraj Bommai - have refrained from accepting it as this report has the potential to impact political alignments in the State.
In an attempt to put pressure on the government, senior Congress leader B.K. Hariprasad, who is reportedly unhappy about being overlooked for a Cabinet position, called for the release of the census report.
He mentioned that Rahul Gandhi, the leader of their party, has spoken out against the injustice faced by Backward Classes. Hariprasad urged Karnataka to follow Bihar's example and release the ready census report.
A joint meeting is expected to take place soon to discuss these matters.
Meanwhile, a joint meeting is scheduled to take place between representatives from Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiava Mahasabha and Vokkaliga Misalathi (Reservation) Horata Samithi, supported by four community seers and Vokkaliga Sangha.
The government is facing pressure from legislators and Ministers of these dominant communities, urging them not to take action on the report as it may undermine the significant role these communities have played in Karnataka's politics.
Veerashaiva Mahasabha Secretary H.M. Renuka Prasanna announced that a meeting of Central and State committee office-bearers will be held in Davangere on October 6 to discuss the census issue.
He questioned, "The Mahasabha and the Vokkaliga Horata Samithi had held three joint meetings in 2016 after which a joint memorandum had been submitted to the government against the census. How can the community numbers go down in 2015 in comparison with data collected by Chinnappa Reddy and Havanur Commissions.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Horata Samithi president G.N. Srikantaiah stated that they had written to the government requesting the rejection of the report.
He criticised the census for not conducting a door-to-door enumeration and accused it of attempting to divide the community by categorising people into 45 different sub-castes. Srikantaiah emphasised that they are not against a new census if it is conducted scientifically and urged the legislators and Ministers from the community to speak out against the report.
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