The Karnataka State Commission For the Other Backward Classes (OBC) will submit the caste survey report to the Siddaramaiah government before January 31, commission chairman Jayaprakash Hegde said on Thursday.
“The report is almost ready and it will be submitted to the government before January 31,” Hegde said.
The statement comes as two dominant communities in the state – Lingayats and Vokkgaliags – have raised objections to the report.
OBC Commission chairman Hegde’s tenure ended in November last year, but chief minister Siddaramaiah had extended it by two months. The tenure of the current OBC panel will end on January 31.
When asked about the date of submission, Hegde said that it would be submitted to the government when the CM gives time. “We have sought time from the chief minister to submit the report. He is busy with the budget preparations. We will submit the report when we get an appointment. Once the report is submitted it would be taken to the cabinet where they will decide on it,” Hegde said.
The commission chairman said that it was a challenging task to analyse the data collected in 2015 and the results are satisfactory. “The data was collected by visiting houses in the state. We sought an extension as we had to analyse the data. The report is in the final stage,” Hegde added.
A schism had surfaced within the Karnataka Congress regarding the release of the survey findings, with Siddaramaiah and deputy CM DK Shivakumar being at odds, issuing conflicting statements on the release of the report. While the CM has said a decision will be taken once he receives the report, Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress chief, has advocated for a re-conduct of the caste survey.
Vokkaliags and Lingayats have opposed the 2015 survey, calling it “unscientific” and have demanded that a fresh survey be conducted. The survey, parts of which were leaked ahead of the 2018 assembly polls, allegedly dispute the numerical strength of Lingayats and Vokkaligas.
When asked about the allegations of the report being unscientific, Hedge said, “I don’t understand how they are calling it unscientific even before the report has been submitted. Once we have submitted this to the government, it will come into the public domain. Then there should be a discussion on it.”
Shivakumar, who is from the Vokkaliga community, was a signatory, along with a few other ministers, to a memorandum submitted by the community in November to the chief minister, requesting to reject the report along with the data.
The leaked data indicated that Scheduled Castes (SCs) accounted for 19.5% of the state’s total population, followed by Muslims at 16%. Lingayats and Vokkaligas represented 14% and 11% of the population, respectively. Within the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the Kuruba community alone comprised 7% of Karnataka’s population, contributing to the OBCs’ overall representation of 20% in the state.
Collectively, these groups, including SCs, STs, Muslims, and Kurubas, formed a substantial portion of the population at 47.5%. The political implications of these findings could significantly impact the state’s political landscape, according to federations of marginalized sections.
Meanwhile, the Veerashaiva Mahasabha had asked its community members not to describe themselves as Hindu in the forthcoming census . This decision was taken among the eight resolutions adopted by delegates during the 24th annual convention of the Veerashaiva Mahasabha in Davangere in December.
Resolution number five taken during the convention calls on all community members to refrain from using the term Hindu, stating that it is in the best interest of society and aims to accurately represent the community’s specific numbers.
“All community members should not use the term Hindu to describe their religion in the next census. They should shun names of sub-castes. They should only use the terms Veerashaiva or Lingayat to describe themselves. This is for the good of society and to tell the world about the specific numbers of our community,” read the resolution.