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BJP may form panel on census

delhi Updated: Jun 10, 2010 23:34 IST
Vikas Pathak
Vikas Pathak
Hindustan Times

Faced with dissent from within and displeasure of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) over its support for caste census, the BJP is likely to form a committee to decide on its stand on the issue.

“A committee will be formed soon to take a view on it,” said a central leader.

“There is a perception that the party took a call in Parliament without adequate consultation within.”

The party had backed caste census in Parliament with an eye on the OBC vote, but things took a turn when the RSS came out against caste census, calling it divisive.

This was followed by dissent within the BJP: leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Balbir Punj, spokesperson Tarun Vijay and came out against the party line, and many sulked silently. Those who supported caste census included Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, deputy leader of the Opposition Gopinath Munde and M. Venkaiah Naidu.

In view of opposition to the party’s position in Parliament later, deputy-CM of poll-bound Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi openly supported caste census, saying the party should project itself as sensitive to Bahusankhyaks’ (majority’s) demands.

This means the party, which had openly announced its support for the issue, is ready to take another look at it.

On the one hand, this is an attempt to make a conciliatory gesture to the RSS, which is seen as the force behind Gadkari’s elevation. And on the other, a signal that sections in the party believe the party’s Parliamentary leadership may have jumped the gun.

Three days back, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke against caste headcount while addressing Swayamsevaks (volunteers) at the concluding day of the Sangh Shiksha Varg tritiya varsh at Nagpur.

He said this would divide society, and added, “While on the one hand we talk about a casteless society, we also support caste-based census on the other, which is wrong.”