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BJP split on caste census

delhi Updated: Aug 10, 2010 01:04 IST
Vikas Pathak
Vikas Pathak
Hindustan Times
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Days after having answered in the affirmative to a government query whether there should be a caste column in the census 2011, the BJP still seems far from clear on the issue.

While the party's reply to the government backed a "caste census", saying nothing about OBCs in particular, BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde said on Monday that the party had, in fact, backed an OBC count and not an all-caste count.

There was a further twist: party MP Ram Jethmalani signed a petition to the government and Opposition by an organisation "Sabal Bharat" asking for an all-party Parliamentary Committee and not just a group of ministers to further deliberate as to whether the country should reverse its policy of not counting castes.

"Eminent persons like… Ram Jethmalani in a statement have …warned our political leaders against… a decision… without proper deliberation and wide consultation with the civil society," said a release by Sabal Bharat on Monday.

The release added that the "garbled terminology" of Pranab Mukherjee and Sushma Swaraj's letters indicate that "no political party wants to take responsibility for the initiation of this dangerous move".

Evidently, while the party has moved away from ideological mentor RSS' position, Jethmalani does not seem to be in agreement with the party's stated position in the letter.

On Friday, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj's reply had said that "caste can be canvassed in the ongoing census/NPR exercise", but the party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde has a different take.

"The issue is an OBC census, just like the SC and ST count that is done in each census, and not counting upper castes," he told HT.