The protagonists of Mandal I had been eagerly awaiting the results of the first socioeconomic caste census in eight decades. But the Centre, without much explanation, has withheld data concerning SC/STs, OBCs and upper caste numbers.

JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, an important figure in the political assertion of the OBCs in the Hindi heartland, believes the Centre is “hiding” the truth about the exact number of caste groups for political reasons.

In an interview to BusinessLine , he asserted that 80 per cent of the oppressed castes in India have negligible representation in Central and State government services but the government does not want to accept this reality publicly. Excerpts:

The Finance Minister has said that Socioeconomic and Caste Census, 2011 will help formulate a convergent poverty reduction programme and target deprived households…

(Interrupts) The media should sometimes read something else other than government press releases. I have written a letter to the Finance Minister questioning these very claims.

The fact is the government is hiding the truth from the country by not releasing the data of SC/STs, backward caste, minority and upper caste groups for political reasons. This is a conspiracy.

Why do you say that?

The immediate reason is that the BJP does not want a repeat of Mandal.

You see, the only political answer to the BJP’s Hindu communal consolidation project is to educate people about caste stratification in the Hindu society.

People should know how upper caste hegemony has kept a majority of the population out of the ambit of prosperity, development, education, almost everything that a civilised nation should offer to its people. That is why Mandal proved so effective against the politics of Kamandal in the 1990s.

In my letter to Mr Jaitley, I have said that the government wants to minimise the quota for the reserved classes cleverly.

But Sharadji, isn’t your perspective equally limited? Why do you restrict emancipation of the poor to just quotas and reservations?

This brings me to the second reason for the BJP to suppress these findings. You see, the BJP has an upper caste bias.

It is a party that wants to maintain Brahaminical supremacy in the society by deliberately depriving the poor of quality education and other basic amenities.

My point is that quotas should be accompanied by universalisation of quality education at all levels and other social and political reforms.

But that is not a priority with this government as you can see from this year’s Budget.

Not only have overall allocations been reduced in the education sector, the government has simultaneously launched an ugly campaign to saffronise educational institutions.

Mediocre academics with affiliation to the RSS are being appointed to head institutions like the Indian Council of Historical Research and plans are afoot to attack the autonomy of the few institutions of excellence in the public sector such as IITs and IIMs.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training does not have a director for the past one year.

Who is affected by these changes? It is the poor and the marginalised sections who still need the State to take care of their basic needs.

The rich, who are mostly upper caste in India, are sending their children to schools who subscribe to international boards. They don’t need to worry about what happens to the CBSE or NCERT.

On what are you basing your presumptions? There is no data to prove that the rich are mostly upper caste or they are sending their children abroad for education.

I rest my case. There is, in fact, no data. That is why I say there is an upper caste conspiracy. There is anecdotal evidence to prove that only the upper castes have benefitted from the twin effects of globalisation and economic liberalisation.

You only see upper caste beneficiaries in sectors like pharmaceuticals, media, software etc. that have opened up after economic liberalisation.

How many tribal or scheduled caste youngsters do you find in the so called “start-up” generation?