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Karnataka Congress now divided over caste census | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The caste census report appears to be a new flashpoint in disgruntlementridden Congress after chief minister Siddaramaiah indicated that the government would accept the report and make it public.
Fault lines appear to have widened as members of the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga castes want the report shelved. They say it underestimates their population figures which would adversely impact reservation quantum.
Adding fuel to the feud were reports that DK Shivakumar, deputy CM and Vokkaliga face, wrote to Siddaramaiah recently, urging him not to accept the report. But Shivakumar said, “I have not written any letter to the CM. These reports are baseless. It has been created with the objec tive of creating a rift between Siddaramaiah and me.”
Although the socio-economic survey — commonly called the caste census — was commissioned in 2015 by the previous Siddaramaiah-led government, successive government’s dithered on accepting the report. The survey was conducted by the Backward Classes Commission headed by Kantharaju and about Rs 165 crore was spent on it.
But the hesitation in accepting the report was for multiple reasons, including political, technical, and legal.
Politically, some in Congress believe it would be detrimental to accept the report before the Lok Sabha polls, as the move may alienate Vokkaligas and Lingayats from Congress. Both communities had strongly supported the party in the assembly elections.
But Siddaramaiah, who has positioned himself as a champion of backward classes, is under pressure to accept the report and restructure reservations accordingly. He even promised to do so, perhaps with an eye on consolidating OBC votes in favour of Congress. The report is seen as favourable to backward classes, especially Kurubas.
“The CM has categorically said the Kantharaju Commission report will be accepted without delay. We are waiting for the present commission [headed by Jayaparakash Hegde] to formally submit it,” said backward classes welfare minister Shivaraj Tangadagi.
This has triggered a rift within the party. “The Lingayat community is worried that their population is wrongly projected. The chief minister should be careful about it,” said Aland MLA and Lingayat leader BR Patil, who is said to be at loggerheads with Siddaramaiah.
A ‘leaked’ version of the report projects the Lingayat population at 10.6%, while the Chinnappa Reddy Commission projected it at 17%. The Vokkaliga population is said to have been reduced to 8% from 12% reported in the Chinnappa Reddy report.
Technically, the report cannot be accepted since it has not been signed by then member secretary. Moreover, it is entangled in court cases.

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