The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar has released a caste-based survey report ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election. According to the survey, the population distribution among various categories is as follows:
- Extremely Backward Classes (EBC): 36.01%
- Backward Classes: 27.12%
- General Category: 15.52%
- Scheduled Caste: 19.65%
- Scheduled Tribes: 1.68%
Within the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category:
- Yadavs constitute 14.26% of the surveyed population.
- Kushwaha and Kurmi communities make up 4.27% and 2.87% of the covered population, respectively.
The survey was conducted in two phases. The first phase involved marking houses and noting the names of family members and their heads. In the second phase, enumerators filled out proforma on 17-point socio-economic indicators, including caste, in their respective districts.
According to data released by Development Commissioner Vivek Singh in Patna, the state’s total population is slightly over 13.07 crore.
It’s important to note that this survey was initiated last year after the Narendra Modi government at the Centre clarified that it would not be able to undertake a headcount of castes other than Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) as part of the census.
Approximately 2.64 lakh enumerators were deployed across the state to document the details of 29 million registered households on various socio-economic criteria, along with caste information. Enumerators had to choose from 214 pre-registered castes, each allotted an individual code.
Several petitions in the Supreme Court have challenged the August 1 judgment of the high court that allowed the government to conduct this survey. However, on August 18, the top court stated that it couldn’t restrain the Bihar government from publishing the cumulative data or findings of the caste survey unless there was a prima facie case showing a violation of any constitutional right or a lack of competence on the part of the state government.
Reacting to this development, former chief minister and RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav described it as a “historic moment.” He emphasized that these figures would set an example for the country in making holistic plans for the development and progress of marginalized groups and ensuring proper representation based on population proportions.