A day after a Group of Ministers gave the green signal for inclusion of caste in census, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday that a final decision on the modalities would be taken by the Union Cabinet. The message: caste will be enumerated, but the Cabinet will decide the stage at which it will be done.
“The Group of Ministers (on the issue) has decided that caste will be canvassed without affecting the integrity of the headcount,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after meeting the opposition leaders.
Before this, the Opposition, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav, forced Lok Sabha to adjourn as soon as it assembled for the day.
They were protesting following news reports that caste census would be done at the time of biometric enumeration.
“If this is done, caste census will take 100 years,” Sharad Yadav of JD (U) said, with MPs representing OBCs from opposition parties backing him. “Are we fools? Biometric stage will never come,” Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh said.
BJP leader Gopinath Munde told reporters that since people will have to themselves go for the biometric stage — which is distinct from census enumerators visiting people’s houses —many people will not go and the accuracy of the caste count will be compromised. “When we conveyed this to Mukherjee in the meeting, his response seemed positive,” said a BJP leader.
Mukherjee said a decision on the modalities of canvassing the caste was yet to be taken. “When and how it will be done is still under consideration,” he said, adding that Union Cabinet will take a final call.
The minister also said that the GoM met on Wednesday and considered the views of several parties on the issue of caste census. Officially, the Congress has maintained that both the party and the government are on the same page on the issue.