The government on Wednesday admitted “differing views” within the Union cabinet on the caste-based census, but added that it did not mean any division on the issue.
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily ruled out holding such an exercise in the near future and said there was nothing wrong with there being many views on a subject in an “argumentative society” like India.
“There are differing views in the cabinet but that does not mean divisions,” Moily said about the lack of consensus on the caste-based census in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Moily, who has openly supported the caste-based census, said such an exercise would be “appropriate and more authentic”, since no caste-based data was available with regard to the Other Backward Classes since 1931.
Asked about the opposition from Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the cabinet meeting, Moily said he did not oppose but only represented the views of the home ministry.
Union Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said, “There is no question of division. The census has already started. So it is not possible to do it in this census,” Abdullah said.
The BJP said it favoured collecting caste data in the ongoing census as correct figures were not available, handicapping the Supreme Court, Mandal Commission and other institutions.
“The last census in which caste was included was in 1931. Since then, partition of the country has taken place when several people went to Pakistan or came to India. As such, we are totally unaware of the correct caste data,” said S.S. Ahluwalia, the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha.
Cong seeks consensus
The Congress has sought consensus among all political parties on caste-based census.
“There has to be a consensus. The government cannot rush with the process,” said a party functionary.
The Centre has clarified that caste-based data collection would not be possible as enumeration had already started. Another leader said the Centre would have to come up with a scientific methodology to conduct the caste census.