Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government has expanded the Scheduled Castes list to include 17 castes of the Other Backward Classes in a bid to give the party a more inclusive image, particularly when 12 Assembly bypolls are just around the corner.
After the decision was taken late Friday night, Uttar Pradesh government directed to issue caste certificate to families belonging to these 17 castes.
The castes that have been added into this list are - Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bihar, Dhivar, Batham, Machua, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Pottar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Tuhaha and Gaur, which previously belonged to the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category, IANS reported.
This would provide benefits of reservation to social and economically backward classes, hence fulfilling a 15-year-old demand.
Earlier, legal irritants that had stalled the issue in the past were also removed.
The decision is bound to benefit BJP ahead of by-elections to 12 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and would erode the vote base of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
This was the third attempt by the state government to include 17 OBC castes into the SC bracket.
Mulayam Singh-led government made the first bid in 2004 by amending UP Public Services Act, 1994. However, as the power to declare any caste as SC lies in the hand of the Centre, the decision taken by the UP government went futile.
In 2012, Akhilesh Yadav took a follow-up of the issue and a high-level committee headed by the then Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani was set-up. It sought the details from the department of social welfare in this regard.
Following the meeting, a circular from chief secretary was released on March 28, 2012. It spoke about the government's priority and also mentioned the inclusion of as many as 17 OBC sub-castes within the SC category. The matter, however, was rejected by the centre.
The Yogi Adityanath's attempt is expected to bear fruit since it apparently comes with the Centre's approval.