Vikash Sharma

Is the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) playing the caste card ahead of the 2024 general elections? Despite announcement for enumeration of the other backward classes (OBCs), no urgency was shown by the government in the past.

But as the elections are nearing, the Odisha government has decided to conduct a survey for enumeration of other backward classes (OBCs) in the state.

As per the notification, the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (OSBC) has targeted to complete the entire process by July 12 even as the Opposition BJP had earlier accused the BJD-led government of deliberately delaying the survey.

“The Government of Odisha has been pleased to accept the proposal of the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (OSCBC) to resume the survey of the social and educational conditions of the people belonging to backward classes in Odisha,” V V Yadav, member secretary, National Commission for Backward Classes (OSCBC), stated in a letter to the collectors & commissioners of municipal corporations.

The entire process of the survey shall be completed by 12 July in all 314 blocks of all the districts and 114 municipalities and municipal corporations in the state.

In the letter, authorities have been asked to complete and send the district survey management plan to the Commission by March first week.

But the question remains, why the government suddenly woke up and decided to go for the survey? Why such exercise when elections are just a year away? Is any attempt being to woo the backward classes that constitute a sizeable population in the state?

Will the Odisha government come up with some scheme after the survey? 

The opposition parties have termed the government’s move as a drama as no step has been taken for making reservations for the backward classes in education and employment.

“The survey has been ordered to grab the votes of the backward classes. So far, nothing has been done for the backward classes,” alleged Congress MLA, Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

BJP MLA, Suryavanshi Suraj said, “In the field of education and employment, no reservation has been made for the backward classes and the recent decision is only vote-bank politics.” 

Responding to the allegations, ruling-BJD MLA Swarup Das said, “Odisha government believes in inclusive development and only the BJP can say whether they have some hidden agenda or not.”