Congress may not give opinion on caste-based census


New Delhi: The Congress is considering the option of not giving its opinion on a caste-based census to a group of ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, a senior party leader said Wednesday.

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The party is likely to go by the stand of the government on the issue, the leader said, at a time when the party along with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are facing interal differences over the issue.

The Congress leader said, on condition of anonymity, that the Congress was the largest constituent of the ruling coalition and it would go by the stand of the government.

“The group of ministers on caste-based census has members from parties which are part of the United Progressive Alliance. The Congress is the largest constituent of the UPA. It will go by the stand of the government. That is the position at present,” the leader told IANS.

Another leader said that a draft position paper was being prepared and it was likely to be considered by the party’s core committee. He said the paper may even be discussed by the working committee, if needed.

He added that the party had the option not to respond to the decision of the GoM, which has sought views of political parties on the caste-based census.

The GoM, at its meeting July 1, decided to elicit opinion of political parties on the issue in four weeks. The GoM is expected to have another meeting later this week.

The BJP is also fine-tuning its stand on caste-based census.

BJP spokesman Tarun Vijay said the party was not against caste enumeration.

“We oppose casteist politics. But caste has become an important fact in the political system,” he said, adding that there was no harm in a caste enumeration.

He added that the party had questions about the methodology that may be used for enumeration.

The spokesman said the party was yet to give its views to the GoM.

Leaders in the Congress and the BJP have spoken on divergent lines on caste-based census.

While BJP leader Gopinath Munde has favoured a caste headcount, party leader Murli Manohar Joshi has expressed reservations over the move. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has opposed a caste-based census.

Law Minister M. Veerapa Moily has favoured caste-based census while his Congress colleague and Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken has opposed it.