Govt not comfortable with caste census

The Home Ministry — the nodal ministry for the 2011 census — was from the beginning dead set against caste-based census which it thought should be seen as a thing of bygone era. The last caste census was taken in 1931.

One of the ministers of state in Home Ministry told Deccan Herald that the caste census would only “take the country backward”. The minister on condition of anonymity said a clear division of caste is hardly possible. “A caste recognised as OBC in a state has the status of ST in another state. Besides, the minister said the status of sub-caste within the OBC caste (more than 3,000) has not been ascertained,” he said.

Gujjars in Rajasthan categorised as the OBC have been agitating for the ST status,  which is being opposed by Meena –another dominant ST caste in the state. Last month when the government announced the census-2011, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai had dismissed the talk of a caste census.

But strong lobbying by the “caste leaders” particularly, — Mulayam, Lalu and Sharad Yadav — had forced the UPA-2 to agree to their demand. The OBC leader of the BJP like Gopinath Munde (a Banjara-Gypsy) has also strongly backed the caste census.

The political give-and-take,  introduction of the contentious Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill in the Lok Sabha seems to have worked to the benefit of  the caste leaders. Yadavs gave full backing to the Bill. The  caste census, according to a section of political class, would trigger “forces of conflict” and deepen the caste-based vote mobilisation.

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