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Govt admits differences over caste-based census

delhi Updated: May 05, 2010 19:01 IST
Govt admits

Amid indications that caste-based census would not be held in the near future, government today admitted that there were differing views on the issue in the Cabinet.

"There are differing views (in the Cabinet) but that does not mean divisions," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said when asked about the lack of consensus at the Cabinet meeting yesterday on conducting caste-based census.

The OBC leader said caste-based census would be "appropriate" and "more authentic" because no caste-based data is available with regard to the OBCs since 1931.

When pointed out that Home Minister P Chidambaram had expressed opposition to caste-based census at the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Moily said he was not opposing but only representing the views of the Home Ministry.

Moily's Cabinet colleague Farooq Abdullah said the discussions to explore views on caste-based census were for the next census and not the exercise currently underway.

"There is no question of division... The census has already started. So, it is not possible to do it in this census... I don't think it is possible this time to introduce this," Abdullah, Minister for New and Renewable Energy, told reporters outside Parliament.

"If it had to be done for this census, this discussion should have been held earlier," said Abdullah who had participated in the discussions on the issue in the Cabinet meeting.

The New and Renewable Energy Minister said even if the caste-based census has to done next time, a debate should be there to see what will be the "right way to go about it and how to do it as it is important for us to know what is their (OBC) basic population."

Noting that all "pros and cons" of the issue have to be discussed, Abdullah said, "Now that it has been brought up now, the Cabinet and Prime Minister felt it needs more discussion and only then a vital issue can be taken up because this was discontinued after 1931."

Meanwhile, BJP said it favoured collecting caste data in the on-going Census as correct figures were not available, handicapping the Supreme Court, Mandal Commission and other institutions while dealing with the issue.

"The last Census, in which caste was included, was in 1931. Since then Partition of the country has taken place when several people went to Pakistan or came to India. As such we are totally unaware of the correct caste data," Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha S S Ahluwalia said.