The contentious issue of caste-based census came up for discussion in the BJP Parliamentary Party meet held on Tuesday. Some party MPs sought to know what opinion would the party send to the Centre in view of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s opposition to the proposal.
While BJP leaders such as Sushma Swaraj and Gopinath Munde hold that there should be a caste census — as the party said in Parliament — some others like Murli Manohar Joshi oppose it.
Yet another opinion is that OBCs as a category, and not all castes, be counted. An additional possibility that has emerged is that the party may buy time by returning the query to the Centre, saying that its letter seeking the BJP’s opinion is ambiguously worded.
Raghunandan Sharma, Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, and Sumitra Mahajan, Lok Sabha MP from Indore, are believed to have brought up the issue before the Parliamentary party.
LK Advani reportedly replied that the party would take a final call on Friday when its core group meets to discuss the party’s response.
A senior BJP leader also said the problem is that the letter sent to the BJP by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for their response is ambiguously worded.
The letter asks whether “caste should be canvassed in such a manner and at such a stage that it does not affect the integrity of the headcount.”
“We do not know what sense to make of this unclear query,” said the BJP leader. This opens the additional possibility that the party may buy time amid its own divided opinion to send the query back to the center for a clarification.