Union minister and Apna Dal (Sonelal) chief Anupriya Patel on Saturday demanded the creation of a separate ministry for the welfare of the backward classes and stressed the need for a caste census to assess their true condition and formulate policies accordingly.
Addressing a function in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, on the occasion of the Apna Dal’s foundation day, she said the party was formed “to free Dalits and backward classes from the cycle of oppression”.
“Today, even after 75 years of independence, the participation of Dalits and backward classes in all the pillars of democracy is not sufficient. Only through a caste census can their true condition be assessed and policies prepared for their welfare,” she said.
She said that her party has been “demanding a caste census since its inception”.
She also said a separate backward classes welfare ministry should be set up on the lines of the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
The minister said that an all-India judicial service should also be established so that promising youths from the Dalit and backward classes can get the opportunity to become judges.
The Apna Dal (Sonelal) chief said it has achieved the distinction of being the third-largest party in Uttar Pradesh due to the hard work of crores of party workers and supporters.
“We do not need to be satisfied with the third position. We have to make the party number one. Today, on the occasion of foundation day, we have to take a pledge to take the party to greater heights. For this, we have to take the ideas and principles of the party to people,” she added.
Targeting Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Patel said, “The Samajwadi Party which is today talking about PDA (‘pichhde’ or backward classes, Dalits, and ‘alpsankhyak’ or minorities) has always worked to break our party. In 2002, it lured away our three MLAs.”
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said, “On the other hand, under the leadership of respected Narendra Modi, the NDA always worked for the advancement of Dalits and backward classes.”
“The prime minister established a medical college in Pratapgarh in the name of Dr Sonelal Patel, gave constitutional recognition to the National Backward Classes Commission and did a commendable job of implementing the OBC reservation in the medical entrance examination NEET,” she added.
The Apna Dal was founded by Sonelal Patel, who belonged to the Kurmi community of Other Backward Classes, on November 4, 1995. After his death, the party split.
The Apna Dal (Sonelal) is led by his daughter Anupriya Patel and is an ally of the BJP. The Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) is led by his wife Krishna Patel and is an ally of the Samajwadi Party.