BJP silent but caste census demand gets louder

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  With Assembly elections scheduled next year, there has been a growing demand for caste census by political parties accusing BJP of keeping mum on the issue, while some regional parties are yet to clear their stand on the matter.

An all-party delegation from Bihar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month over the issue. Eyeing UP elections early next year, the Samajwadi Party has launched a slogan ‘jiski jitni sankhya bhaari, utni uski hissedaari’ (partnership in government should be proportionate to the numbers of a community), while Congress has constituted a committee under former Union minister M Veerappa Moily to look into this.

Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal have been silent and have not clarified their stand on the matter. BSP has been banking upon its social engineering formula to form a Dalit-Brahmin alliance, while RLD is focusing on Jat-Muslim unity. Other smaller parties that are supporting the NDA government have also favoured caste-based enumeration.

“BJP had called for a caste census when it was in the Opposition. BJP in power is unaccountable and opposite to what its leaders had said on this. If people are not counted on economic status and caste, due representation and opportunities cannot not be guaranteed,” said SP spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari.

The Left, NCP, DMK and others have also asked the Centre to carry out the caste census. “Caste census was last done in 1931 by Britishers. When there is no data (updated), how do you frame policies? BJP thinks it will lose the support it has and some political parties may try to use it and others may have their own reasons,” said CPI general secretary D Raja.

The Congress is also backing the census with UP elections around the corner. “The UPA conducted an economic and caste census in 2011 but the BJP did not publish it after coming to power in 2014. It should be done for the benefit of people who have been at the receiving end,” said UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu. DMK leader Tiruchi Siva said the government has responded to the matter and it was raised even during discussion on the OBC Bill.