After Vokkaligas, Lingayats, the other dominant community in Karnataka, on Thursday expressed disapproval of the Socio-Economic and Education Survey, popularly known as the caste census, calling it unscientific, and demanded a fresh survey.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which is the apex body of Veerashaiva Lingayats. In 2015, then Congress Government had commissioned the Socio-Economic and Education Survey at an estimated cost of `170 crore in the State, the findings of which have not been made public yet.
The Karnataka Chief Minister had recently said a decision would be taken once he receives the report — which is expected later this month. However, with the strong disapproval of two dominant communities, the issue may turn out to be a political hot potato for the Congress Government, as it may set the stage for a confrontation, with Dalits and OBCs among others demanding for it to be made public.
“No we are not happy, it is not scientific. It was done sitting here; they had not visited houses. It was done eight years ago. So, our opinion is that it should be done once again scientifically,” Mahasabha president Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, who is a veteran Congress leader and MLA, said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said there are complaints that those who conducted the survey did not visit houses to collect the data. He also shared the community’s concern stating, “There are reports that Lingayat population has been shown as smaller in the survey. So, use modern technology for a fresh census (survey),” he said.
This is our opinion, he said, adding that Lingayats are not opposed to the caste census, but want it to be scientific. Last week, Vokkaliga leaders at a meeting that was also attended by Deputy CM D K Shivakumar and seers from the community, had passed a resolution urging the government to “reject” the caste census.
However, federations representing Dalits, tribal people and other backward classes (OBC) on Wednesday demanded that the findings of the caste census, kept under wraps, be made public. Accusing both the dominant communities of trying to block the caste census from coming out, leaders of the Karnataka State Backward Castes Federation and the Karnataka Marginalised Communities Federation threatened to hold agitations.
To a question about some persons claiming that this is not a caste census, Shivashankarappa said, “Yes, it is a Socio-Economic and Education Survey; it is not the caste census. So let the new caste census be done.” Asked if there will be joint agitation, with Vokkaligas too disapproving of the survey, he said, “Let’s see...We will decide about the agitation in the future.”
When it was pointed out that the government would get the survey report from the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes this month, the Lingayat leader said, “Let them get the report...But it should not be accepted or revealed.” Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes Chairperson K Jayaprakash Hegde last month said he would submit the caste census report to the state government in November. According to some analysts, successive governments have been shying away from releasing it as the findings of the survey are allegedly contrary to the “traditional perception” of the numerical strength of various castes in Karnataka, especially the dominant Lingayats and Vokkaligas, making it a political hot potato.
Political parties in the state have indulged in a blame game for not accepting the survey and not making it public. Officials have also cited the then member-secretary of the State Commission for Backward Classes not signing the final report as the technical hurdle that has hindered the release of the report. They said the caste census report is currently with the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, and once it submits it, the cabinet would take a call.