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Nitish asks Centre to recognise EBCs as ST

| | Patna | in Sunday Pioneer

In a bid to appease certain extremely backward castes (EBCs), the Bihar Government has recommended the Centre to accord them the status of Scheduled Tribe (ST). “For their inclusion in the ST category we are sending the ethnographic study report to the Ministry of Scheduled Tribe Welfare with our recommendation,” said an official on Saturday.

The EBCs recommended for tribal status included Mallah and Nishad and their sub-castes Bind, Beldar, Chayen, Teeyar, Khulwat, Surhiya, Gorhi, Vanpar and Kewat, which belong to fishermen and boatmen castes. Another caste recommended for tribal category is Nonia or earth-cutter.

By this move the Nitish Kumar led Government has played a big role to woo these castes. According to unofficial statistics the EBCs as a whole constitute more than 35 per cent of population and these caste groups are not supposed to have any political affiliation like Yadav, Kurmi and Kushwaha which are regarded as creamy layers of the backward class.

With this recommendation the State has put the ball in the Centre’s court with a broad message that the State Government was in favour of their recognition as Scheduled Tribe for their social, educational and economic welfare.

The official spokesman said that a similar recommendation had been sent to the Centre back in 2015. But the ST Welfare Ministry had returned the recommendation with advise that an ethnographic study should be conducted first. The Bihar Government got the ethnographic study conducted by AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies which submitted its study report to the Government.

CM Nitish Kumar ordered to submit the recommendation with the ethnographic study report to the Union Ministry. The decision has been largely hailed by these extremely backward castes. Nitish led JD(U) is looking for social groups for its expansion and acceptability. This move is also seen in the light of the ongoing debates that Nitish’s party has very limited caste based support, that’s only of Kurmis which has a population of about 4 per cent whereas the Kushwaha caste is almost double of the Kurmis.

The leader of Kushwaha caste Upendra Kushwaha, who is junior Union Minister and heads Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) is sulking in the NDA camp or at least showing his disenchantment to the BJP leadership. The RJD is trying to take advantage of the situation and luring Upendra Kushwaha to quit NDA and join Mahagathbandhan. Signals to this effect have been send by Tejashwi Yadav who said Kushwaha has no place of dignity in the NDA and was being ignored there.

But the target of Kushwaha is not the Lok Sabha polls 2010 but the Assembly elections 2020. His supporters have time and again publicly demanded that Upendra Kushwaha should be projected the CM face in 2020. The RJD leadership have send signals that he was welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan for honourable adjustment but he should forget the demand of the post of CM because that post is already reserved for Tejashwi.




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