Lucknow. After announcing that four new states would be formed out of existing Uttar Pradesh, BSP supremo Mayawati has announced formation of four new castes out of existing castes. These castes, names of which will be announced later in a rally, will get benefits of quota in government jobs and educational institutes.
“If we come back to power, we will constitute four new castes for better development of people of Uttar Pradesh,” Mayawati read out a written statement, “People can apply for membership of these castes, and if selected, they will be declared underprivileged, following which they will be eligible for reservations.”
The names of the new castes and the process of selection of candidates to be included in the new castes have not been announced yet, which has given rise to many rumors.
“I think they are going to auction memberships like cricketers are auctioned in IPL for inclusion in teams,” Prof. Santosh Sahay, a sociologist working with Lucknow University claimed, “This will make sure that money is generated for the party – a pattern that BSP follows in every decision making process.”
When asked how can those, who can take part in a competitive bidding process and “buy” memberships, be later declared as “underprivileged” and needing government support, Prof. Sahay cited the example of Dr. Vijay Mallya.
“Even he took part in the IPL auctions and bought many players, but did that stop him from seeking help and support from the government?” the professor argued.
“Recently even the ceiling for being categorized as creamy-layer in OBC category was also changed and those earning a lakh rupee per month were deemed eligible for reservations; so I think Mayawati can defend her decision to auction the caste memberships,” he added.
Currently, the constitution of India doesn’t allow a person to change his or her caste, which means that the central government would need to bring about a constitutional amendment to implement the latest announcement by the Mayawati government.
“I have already written a letter to the Prime Minister to this effect,” Mayawati put the onus on the center.
As expected, opposition parties in UP have reacted sharply with Samajwadi Party accusing Mayawati of conspiring to weaken the strength of OBCs by converting them into new castes. Congress too has opposed the move with Rahul Gandhi terming those who seek to change their castes as “beggars”, while BJP has favored merger of all castes into one large “Hindu” caste.
Political experts believe that the latest decision of Mayawati is aimed at winning the next year’s assembly elections. “Instead of reaching out to already existing vote banks, she is trying to create a new vote bank,” a political expert concluded after three hours of analysis.
(originally written for and published in leading English daily DNA)