Government okays caste census, cabinet nod soon: Pranab


New Delhi : The government has “more or less” decided in favour of a caste census, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday, adding that the issue would be taken up in the next cabinet meeting for an official nod.

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“The government has more or less decided in favour of it,” Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha about the inclusion of caste in the population count that has already begun.

Mukherjee said all political parties were supportive of the idea and “there was no room for any apprehensions over the issue”.

As Leader of the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee made the statement after members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) raised the issue and wanted to know what was the government doing after its promise on caste census.

Mukherjee said the panel of ministers that was formed to examine the caste census has “decided that caste census will be carried out during the house enumeration exercise”.

“It will be limited to collection of information with regard to caste and biometric exercise will go on simultaneously,” he said.

He said the ministerial panel was “not empowered” to take the decision on its own but its decision will be endorsed by the cabinet at its next meeting.

“It is now a matter of formality,” he said.

JD-U chief Sharad Yadav raised the issue on the last day of the monsoon session.

He said the government had sought views from political parties and nothing came out of it.

This, despite the fact that the finance minister had held three meetings with leaders of various political parties, Sharad Yadav added.

“There is unease in the country and the government should let us know what it is doing,” he said.

SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, the BJP’s Gopinath Munde and the BSP’s Dara Singh Chauhan supported Sharad Yadav.

Mulayam Singh said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the finance minister had promised political parties that the caste census would be conducted.

“What is the reason for this (delay)? What should we do? Where should we go? We want the house to function but there should be a response from the government,” the SP leader said.