Disagreeing with some of his colleagues on the issue of including caste in the census, a senior minister on Sunday dismissed claims that the move was regressive and an "insidious" one and asserted that the majority in the Cabinet was in its favour.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also dismissed suggestions that the issue was in a way "Mandal II" and said there need not be any apprehension that the demand would lead to a division in society.
Making a strong pitch for its inclusion, Bansal told PTI in an interview that there was a "preponderant view" during debate in the Lok Sabha that it should be included in the census and "larger number of people" in the Union Cabinet also wanted it.
"There is nothing insidious or invidious in it, and it is not a regressive one," he said dubbing moves opposing the inclusion of caste as "all idealism and utopia".
Noting that caste is a reality, he said there should be a relentless fight against casteism, but "you cannot banish casteism by not counting".
Bansal's statement was diametrically opposite to the one by Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken who wrote to young MPs urging them to oppose the "regressive" move that was being pushed as part of "divisive agenda for short-term political gain".
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister, who spoke on a range of issues, including the move to shift the Question Hour in Parliament, was sharply critical of the BJP for attempting to create an "accident" for the government through the Cut Motion.
Rejecting suggestions that the government was skating on "thin ice" as regards numbers in the Parliament, he said, "we are aware of the constraints... that 207 (Congress' strength in the Lok Sabha) is not 275 or not 300 (in a house of 543)."
"We don't anticipate any accident. We are conscious of the situation ... we are perfectly in the saddle and doing a good job," Bansal said projecting a picture of "all is well" in Parliament for the Congress-led coalition.
He praised the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the RJD, the three outside supporters together having 46 members, for not supporting the BJP's "game of destabilisation" that could have forced another elections and voting in favour of stability.