Govt Clears The Decks For Caste-Based Census In Odisha & How! Details Here


Bhubaneswar: It began with the Odisha Cabinet approving a proposed amendment to the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, at Lok Sabha Bhawan around 9.45 am on Monday. And then there was speculation that the state government will soon pass a resolution in this regard in the Assembly.

But the timing and the secrecy with which it was executed caught everyone unawares.

Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro adjourned the House from 5.30 pm to 5.59 pm and convened the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), which was attended by Leader of Opposition in the assembly Pradipta Kumar Naik and leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Narasingh Mishra.

The reason: Introduction of Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (Amendment) Bill in the House, which was not listed for passing in the list of business for the day.

Except BAC members, no one from the ruling BJD and the Opposition Congress and BJP was aware of these developments.

If sources are to be believed, the BJD members had received a call from Naveen Niwas on Sunday night, asking them to remain present in the House. No explanation, however, was given.

Soon after discussion on the motion of thanks for the Governor’s address, the government introduced the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (Amendment) Bill, taking everyone by surprise.

The Bill was piloted in the House by Minister of State for ST and  SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Jagannath Saraka.

Moving a resolution on passing the bill, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik  said that the Assembly has resolved to amend the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes Act 1993, to enable the Backward Classes Commission to conduct a survey of the social and educational conditions of backward class people.

After 27 years, the state government on February 12 formed the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes and appointed retired Justice Raghunath Biswal as its chairperson.

And the resolution was adopted unanimously. The clinical precision with which it was executed, lasting just 90 minutes in the Assembly, left the Opposition with no time to react. All one could hear was some whimpers over the hastiness at which the Bill was passed.

CLP leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha reasoned it out with the members, who wanted it to be deferred till Tuesday. They explained that the Bill had to introduced under special circumstances as it cannot be done once the budget 2020-21 is presented and till the time it is passed in the House.

Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari is scheduled to present the budget on Tuesday.

The Centre had earlier turned down the state government’s request to conduct a socio-economic enumeration of the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) during the general census in 2021.

The entire exercise by the ruing BJD is being seen as a move to consolidate its vote bank and appease the backward community in the state.

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