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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition Congress on Sunday attacked Odisha government for proposing to conduct Socio-Economic Caste Enumeration of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Other Backward Classes (SEBC/OBC) along with the 2021 general census and alleged that it is a plan to garner votes.

“This is not a historic step as is being touted by many; rather, it is a new plan of the government to garner votes. Whether they don’t have the list of SEBC (Socially & Economically Backward Classes) & OBC? I am not happy with this proposal,” said the Congress leader.

Stating that there is nothing new in the proposal, the senior leader added that the government has raised the demand before the Centre keeping in view the ensuing urban and local polls.

He further alleged that preparing the list of SEBC is worthless and it is being done to divert the attention of people from other key issues.

Congress MP Ranjib Biswal also toed Routray's lines to criticise the State government over the move.

“The Odisha government already has the list of SC, ST, SEBC, general caste and minorities but the proposal by the government is an effort to divide people on the basis of their castes which is dangerous,” Biswal said.

Similarly, senior leader Srikant Jena also slammed the Odisha government over the issue.

“Why is Odisha government not implementing OBC (27%) & SC/ST (38.5%) quota? Around 94% people here are eligible to get caste-based reservations but only 6% people are taking all advantage,” Jena said.

Responding to the criticisms, BJD Vice President Debi Mishra said, “If there is adequate data regarding the socio-economic condition of people, a roadmap can be prepared for their development. It is not unconstitutional to include the Socio-Economic Caste Enumeration in the general census.”

Earlier yesterday, the State cabinet chaired by CM Naveen Patnaik passed a resolution in this regard while noting that no formal census including caste details of the population has been undertaken since 1931.

Due to non-availability of authentic data about the exact number of SEBC and OBC population, the geographical areas of their spread and density, outcome-specific planning for their development is becoming a challenging task, the cabinet noted.

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