Three days after the Union cabinet’s nod to the caste census, three former Chief Election Commissioners came on one platform criticising ‘the detrimental decision that will divide the nation on caste lines serving the needs of some vote starved political leaders.’
Though there were already protests against ‘the compiling and segregation of population on caste lines’ — a British practice being readopted after a gap of 80 years — the concern now comes from J.M. Lyngdoh, N. Gopalaswami and T.S. Krishnamurthy who earlier serving as CECs have expert, first-hand knowledge of the bond between caste and vote in the country.
Appealing to the government not to succumb to vote-politics, the Commissioners under the umbrella of Foundation for Advanced Management of Elections (FAME) said they will discuss the issue and decide to file a PIL in the Supreme Court against the decision.
“Votes are appealed on caste lines here. Apart from increasing the awareness of caste it will accentuate the worst trend of caste politics in the country,” N. Gopalaswami, former CEC said.
“So far the caste based (political or governmental) measures are based on rough estimates. The new exercise will serve on a platter the exact number of members in each caste leading to undesirable situations,” Gopalaswami, who is vice chairman (VC), FAME, added.
“(The cabinet decision) is a retrograde step. What good will it serve except being detrimental to the larger interests of the country,” J.M. Lyngdoh told HT on Sunday. Lyngdoh, who is also Chairman of the body, said that FAME would discuss and take a decision on filing a PIL.
“This is certainly a serious issue. We have seen the kind of effect that caste has on politics, elections. Caste based census is condemnable with all reason,” T.S. Krishnamurthy said.
General secretary of FAME K.J. Rao said they will take along like-minded individuals and NGOs in opposing the move. The new wave of protest from the CECs will boost ‘Mera Jaat Hindustani’ campaign launched by a section of civil society.