Bhubaneswar: As the Union government sought detailed data from the state government on the status of benefits extended to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) on several schemes and others, the state government seems to have awakened to the sudden call.
The political grapevines have it that akin to its most popular schemes like Ayushman Bharat and PM-Kisan Yojana, the Centre might be planning to come up with some pro-OBC schemes – announcement of reservation or other OBC appeasing programmes to secure the votes from the community.
The state on the other had been at loggerheads when it comes to ensuring their reservation rights and other benefits as given in other states. The BJD-ruled government on the other hand does not want to lose any chance. Recently, the state Cabinet resolved to undertake the Socio-Economic Caste Census, as soon as the letter from the Centre seeking OBC data was sought from the state.
Earlier in the state, the BJD-ruled government launched KALIA scheme for the farmers akin to the PM-Kisan Scheme before the state launched the scheme nationally. The state government also continued with the rollout of the Ayushman Bharat scheme by its state own Biju Swastya Kalyan Yojana.
A letter in the second week of this month was sent by the National Commission of Backward Classes seeking district-wise details of OBC population, their education, other demographic details and the entitlements they get from the central schemes and the overall picture of the state OBC population linked to other government services.
Political parties in the state now smell a rat in the overall development. Some politicians also believe that the caste census demand from the state was nothing but an attempt to woo the OBC population of the state.
“The state government hardly ever thought about the welfare of the OBC community in the state. Caste Census demand is just vote-bank politics. The same state government dissolved the OBC Commission in 2006 and despite reconstruction orders from the Orissa HC the state continued to defy the orders and ignored the OBC community in the state,” said Satya Prakash Nayak, Odisha Congress spokesperson.
Former Union minister Srikant Jena has also accused the state government of not giving the OBCs their constitutional rights.
BJP spokesperson Lekshashri Samantsinghar claimed that Odisha was one of the few states in India where OBC are deprived of their reservation rights. BJD, however, claims that there is nothing unconstitutional in seeking caste census.