The row of 'Barqueros' suggests the end of the OBC subdivision in UP

NEW DELHI: The UP government's decision to include 17 OBC castes of boatmen on the scheduled caste list seems to suggest that the state governed by the BJP may have scrapped its plan for subcategorizing the list of backward castes.

In the midst of political problems, the Center last week took the step of censuring the state in Parliament by calling its movement unconstitutional. But the main question remains what caused the state to virtually modify the SC list that is the exclusive domain of the Center. The 17 castes fall into the informal clash of Castes more backward among and would be the main beneficiary of the OBC subcategorization.

UP had established a committee on the subdivision of the other way around and the panel presented its report a few months ago.

The 17 castes are Mallah, Kashyap, Kumhar, Dheemar, Bind, Prajapati, Dheevar, Bhar, Kewat, Batham, Kahar, Machhua, Rajbhar, Nishad, Turha, Manjhi and Gaudia.

The subcategorization is designed to meet the demand for equitable distribution of reserve benefits. Under this scheme, the OBC list is divided into caste groups according to their socioeconomic status and the Mandal quota of 27% is prorated among them in proportion to their participation in the backward population.

The MBC of the 'boatmen' have not benefited from the affirmative action because they can not compete against the strong backward castes for the same Mandal quota cake of 27%.

The experts argued that if UP wanted to help the MBC, they should have taken the subcategorization route. The fact that he has not done so seems to suggest that the BJP regime may have rejected the proposal he had announced with great enthusiasm after the Adityanath government took office two years ago.

The case of the 'barquero/machhua' castes is old, since SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav tried to include them in the SC list twice during their governments in 2005 and in 2017 when their son Akhilesh Yadav was CM.

While the Center blocked the movement in 2006, it was shot down by the superior court for the second time. Interestingly, the General Registrar of India rejected UP's proposal in 2005, arguing that the 17 castes did not pass the untouchability test that is indispensable for a community to be declared as CS.

Later, the state presented a research report on the 17 castes to reinforce their case. However, the RGI again rejected the proposal, concluding that the study carried out by UP did not establish untouchability among these communities.