After party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi openly spoke against the caste census, there are signs of deeper dissent within the BJP on the issue.
The party’s national spokesperson Tarun Vijay — expected to articulate the party line — and Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj have written articles against the caste census.
The BJP had officially backed the caste count during the last Parliament session. Sushma Swaraj and Gopinath Munde, the leader and deputy leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, said a caste headcount would help the state plan better for OBCs, who get quotas and other benefits.
The RSS has, however, opposed the idea as divisive.
Taking a similar line, Tarun Vijay has written a satirical piece in a Hindi daily against caste obsession in India, touching upon the issue of caste count.
“Mandir, math, ashram, daftar, neta logan ke ghar aur bazaar, jan-garna wale master saheb: sab pooch rahe hain jaat bataao. Saara desh khap panchayat mein tabdeel ho gaya hai (Temple, ashram, office, politicians’ houses, markets, the schoolmaster collecting census details: all are asking one’s caste. The whole country has become a khap panchayat),” Tarun Vijay wrote.
When contacted, he told HT: “I stand completely with the party’s stand on caste census. We will discuss among our leaders because as a swayamsevak and a reformist Hindu, I have absolutely no belief in caste and I have shown it through the example of my life: I have myself married outside caste. I believe in the RSS doctrine of Samrasta (harmony).”
He is not the only public dissenter in the party.
Punj wrote in another Hindi daily on Tuesday that the counting of caste was akin to the British divide and rule policy. “Caste was included in the census by the British in 1871 to divide India, but public opposition led to its discontinuation in 1931,” Punj wrote.
“In independent India V.P. Singh divided the Indian society into castes by announcing the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in the name of empowerment of backward castes. This was a political stunt.”