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‘Inclusion of 17 OBC castes in SC list by Yogi Govt a political move’

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New Delhi, June 29: Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government on Friday added 17 castes in the list of Scheduled Castes to provide them benefits of the reservation.

The castes that have been added into this list are - Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bhar, Dhivar, Batham, Fisherman, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Pottar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Tuhaha and Gaur, which previously belonged to the other backward caste (OBC) category.

File photo of Yogi Adityanath

The Yogi government has directed the authorities to issue caste certificate to families belonging to these 17 castes, but with a rider that the final decision will depend on the orders of the court.

The order issued by the Social Welfare Department says that this decision will be subject to the final order of the court. That is, if the final decision of the court comes to exclude these castes from the Scheduled Castes then they will be excluded from the Scheduled Castes' list.

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According to political analysts, this is purely a political move aimed at denting the voter base of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in the next assembly elections.

"The matter of including these 17 castes in the Scheduled Castes is sub-judice. Moreover, the issue is not new but almost two-decade-old. There is no guarantee that the court will pass an order to include these castes in the SC list. Therefore, the move should be seen as a political move by the Yogi Government to dent the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party," says a socialist analyst.

The SP counts OBCs, especially Yadavs, as their main supporters while the BSP represents the Dalits or SCs. Mayawati only favoured Jatavs among the SCs.

When Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2000 then he had mooted the plan to include above mentioned castes in the SC list.

In 2005, the then UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav had issued a similar order to include these castes in the SC category but was opposed by the Allahabad High Court.

Both BSP Chief Mayawati and SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav had also tried to provide SC status to these castes but could not succeed.

Just before the UP Assembly elections in December 2016, Akhilesh Yadav had attempted to include these 17 castes by issuing a notice to the Centre to do the needful. But the BJP government's Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment led by Thawar Chand Gehlot had not allowed the implementation after the issue was challenged in the Allahabad High Court.

In January 2017, Allahabad High Court stayed the order of UP government and directed the principal secretary, social welfare, not to issue SC certificates to candidates belonging to 17 OBC sub-categories.

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The court passed the order while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by the Dr BR Ambedkar Granthalaya Jan Kalyan Society.

The PIL said that the state government cannot initiate the process of inclusion of a caste in the list of Schedule Caste on its own as the Constitution empowers the central government to make such amendments. Therefore, such a decision taken by the state government is violative of Article 341 of the Constitution.

In April 2017, the court lifted the stay but the hearing continues. Therefore, Yogi Government has passed the orders to include 17 OBC castes in the SC list.

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