A day after the Congress reprimanded Law Minister Veerappa Moily for speaking in public on the caste census, another minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Sunday openly supported the caste count.
“There is nothing insidious or invidious in it, and it is not a regressive one. Caste is a reality. There should be a relentless fight against casteism, but you cannot banish casteism by not counting,” Bansal told PTI.
The statement of Bansal, who holds cabinet portfolios of parliamentary affairs and water resources, once again brings to fore the division within the Congress and the government on the caste census issue that has since been referred to a Group of Ministers.
Bansal claimed that majority of the cabinet was in favour of the count and there was a “preponderant view” on the issue in the Parliament.
But there have been few voices of dissent. Ministers such as Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal and M.S. Gill are opposed to it. So is Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken who wrote to 67 young MPs, urging them to oppose the “regressive” move that was being “pushed as part of divisive agenda for short-term political gains”. The party disapproved of his move too.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram has also expressed reservations on account of logistics.
But Bansal dubbed opposition as “all idealism”. He dismissed suggestions that the issue was “Mandal II” in the making.