Karnataka Caste census report may finally see the light of day on 29 February

The report has faced strong opposition from Lingayats and Vokkaligas, two dominant castes with several strong political leaders in Karnataka.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 28, 2024 | 8:19 PMUpdatedFeb 28, 2024 | 8:19 PM

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah DyCM DK Shivakumar Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes Jayaprakash Hegde

Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes (KSCBC) Chairman Jayaprakash Hegde is expected to submit the final report on the socio-economic and education survey, deemed as caste census survey, to the state government on Thursday, 29 February.

For Congress, that has been pushing for social justice as its Lok Sabha election agenda, the Karnataka Caste census can be a test of commitment to the idea, beyond rhetoric.

The report has faced strong opposition from Lingayats and Vokkaligas — two dominant castes in Karnataka that have several strongman leaders across the political spectrum in the state.

The Karnataka government will be able to table the final report on the socio-economic and education survey in the Assembly on Thursday.

According to the Karnataka CMO: “The ongoing budget session has been extended till Thursday. The chief minister will give a reply to the budget and table the socio-economic and education report in the house on the same day.”

KSCBC Chairman Jayaprakash Hegde confirmed the development to South First. He said: “The final report is ready. I will be submitting it to the chief minister on Thursday. We are still communicating to fix the time of submission.”

It may be noted that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah extended the tenure of Hegde last year as the chairman of the KSCBC.

Hegde was appointed the chairman of KSCBC on 24 November, 2020. His three-year tenure would have ended on 24 November.

He was given an extension of his term till he submitted the final report on the socio-economic and education survey.

Related: Karnataka caste census report divides government

The report

The survey was conducted by the H Kanthraj committee at an estimated cost of ₹162 crore between 2015 and 2018 during the previous Congress government’s tenure.

There were rumours that the report that Kantharaj had prepared had been lost, and Hegde had to put them to rest.

In his letter to the Karnataka chief secretary expressing concerns about the original document of the Kanthraj report missing in 2021, he said: “We required those original documents to write a report. We have the data, which is cent percent safe.”

He added: “We have the hard copy as well as the soft copy of the survey report. There is no problem with the original document.”

Hegde also noted: “Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has uploaded the entire data to our website (accessible only to officials). There is no question of losing any data.”

In an exclusive conversation with South First last year, Hegde also assured: “We are working hard on putting all the data together to submit the H Kanthraj report on socio-economic and education survey to the government.”

Related: Karnataka caste census report faces Lingayat, Vokkaliga opposition

The opposition

The report led to a divergence of opinions within the Congress leadership in Karnataka — especially between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who is also the chief of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).

While Siddaramaiah staunchly supported the acceptance of the report, Shivakumar aligned with pontiffs and leaders from the dominant Vokkaliga community in opposing it.

Those opposed to the report have been calling for a resurvey, adding a layer of complexity to the government’s decision-making process.

Hegde pointed out in his earlier conversation with South First: “Earlier, surveys used to happen on samples. I will not say that we have covered all the houses, but this survey is very close to the populace of Karnataka.”

He added: “Population in every community will increase; I am not denying that. It may also be important to note that we are still using the 2011 census report for various government programmes and works.”