– Mohammed Atherulla Shariff
It was in 1990s the caste-based census was first initiated in the country by Karnataka with an idea to provide social, economic and educational justice for all sections of the society. The Karnataka Minorities Commission headed by K. Rahman Khan had conducted a survey of minorities in order to ascertain their socio-economic and educational conditions. It became a guiding force for the state government to design the welfare schemes.
Taking into consideration of the survey, the then chief minister Veerappa Moily had decided to provide 6% reservation for Muslims in government jobs and education. In the subsequent assembly elections in 1994, the Janata Dal came to power and Deve Gowda became the chief minister. The new government reduced the reservation of Muslims to 4%.
When Siddaramiah became the chief minister in 2013, he decided to conduct a caste-based survey of all the communities under the supervision of Backward Classes Commission. In 2018 when there was a hung assembly, the Congress-Janata Dal coalition government was headed by HD Kumaraswamy. The Backward Classes Commission Chairman Kant Raj presented the survey report to the new chief minister, which he declined to receive. Probably the statistics of the survey were sensed by the new government.
After a gap of five years the issue has come up again. Chief Minister Siddaramiah intends to make the survey public, but the two dominant groups Lingayat and Vokkaliga are leaving no stone unturned to prevent it happening. The reason behind, as being guessed by the experts, is the caste survey report is likely to break the myth of these groups as majority groups.
Some influential sources opine that as per the survey the Other Backward Communities (OBCs) are in majority and the second large group is Muslims followed by Lingayats and Vokkaligas. Hence there is a stiff opposition from both the latter groups to making the survey report public.
But the Muslims have not shown the required amount of concern in the survey report. As if they feel more comfortable with the minority tag.