With politics having assumed centre stage over the Uttar Pradesh government’s recent decision to include 17 Other Backward Castes (OBCS) in the list of Scheduled Castes, the Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati on Monday joined the fray. She slammed the decision and termed it as unlawful and unconstitutional.

Hitting out at the Yogi Adityanath government, the BSP president said that the decision to include 17 OBCs in the SC category had been taken keeping the impending by-elections to 12 assembly constituencies in mind.

Mayawati demanded the immediate withdrawal of this “unconstitutional” order. She said the Yogi government has misled the people of these 17 castes in the same way as the Samajwadi Party government had done.The government of the day knows well that these OBCs cannot get the benefit which accrues to the Scheduled Castes. It has become clear that the state government has deceived these OBCs. This decision will ensure that this category of people will neither get the benefits given to the SCs or be considered OBCs.In such a scenario why has the government taken such a decision, she queried.

Mayawati said the BSP had raised this issue with the then Congress government at the Centre in 2007.It had written that these 17 castes be included in the category of SCs and the quota of SCs be increased. By so doing the benefits which the SCs were getting would not be affected and these 17 castes would also get the quota benefits.Such demands had been raised off and on but neither the then government at the Centre nor the present one has done anything on the count,she added.

The issue of including these 17 castes in the SC category had been first raised by the Samajwadi Party government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2005. The High Court however stayed the order following which the proposal was sent to the Central government.

For records the SC population constitutes 20.7 per cent of the total population in UP. There are 66 sub- castes of SCs including Jatav, Pasi, Kori, Balmiki , Dhobi.The SCs are getting 21 per cent reservation in UP.If the 17 OBCs are included in the list the number of dalit sub- castes will go upto 83. These are 79 castes in the OBC category who are availing the 27 per cent quota benefits. If the proposal of the Yogi government gets the go ahead nod then the number of the castes in the OBC category will come down to 62.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday last had issued directives to the authorities concerned to issue caste certificates to the families belonging to these socially and economically backward castes. These 17 castes comprise the Nishad, Mallaha, Bind,Kewat, Kashyap,Batham, Dhivar, Bhar,Kahar, Prajapati, Rajbhar,Machua, Turaha, Gaur, Kumhar,Manjhi and Dhimar.

The Yogi government’s move coming close on the heels of the by- elections to 12 VidhanSabha constituencies kicked up a politicalstorm. The SP and the BSP saw it as a move to erode into their vote bank by winning over these OBCs.This was compounded by a fear that the quota to these OBCs will eat into their share of reservation, if it was not increased.