Giving a strong call for conducting a caste-based census, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav today said that while undertaking the exercise, representatives of all the castes should be taken into account.
"We welcome Madras High Court's decision directing the government to conduct caste-based census. The court's verdict is in concurrence with the consensus reached on the issue in Parliament. I now appeal and expect that each and every caste in India would be counted, so that we can know after 63 years of Independence, which social group stays where in society," Yadav said while speaking to reporters here.
The JD(U) chief said that though census exercises in the past have been taking religion into account, inclusion of castes was not considered at any time.
"India was divided because of religion, not because of caste, but religion census continued, so religion was the culprit while caste was punished. If you are interested in knowing the figures related to religions, which proved to be divisive, why are you not interested in knowing the figures of caste?" Yadav sought to know.
He added that "till all these years, the government avoided caste-based census. Now it should not be afraid of doing this. I think they fear the fact that once this is done, then the exact picture about the actual status of various castes will emerge. Caste system is a bitter reality of our society, but we cannot get rid of it by ignoring it".
Yadav further said that "once the exact numbers under each and every caste are determined, then the government should undertake a discussion with all parties on how to abolish the caste system from the country".
He said that in a country where 90 per cent people belonging to all castes still live hand to mouth, it is important to undertake caste-based census to get a clear picture of their status.
"Several of our great personalities like Guru Nanak, Guru Govind Singh, Kabir Das, Mahatma Phule and Mahatma Gandhi, were against the caste system, therefore after discussions with all parties, a viable option should be explored for abolishing it, once the caste-based census is complete," Yadav said.
The JD(U) chief advocated the study of the Lingayat sect of Karnataka, which came into existence only after fighting against the caste system.
The former union minister said that "despite the government giving reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs since 1993, the representation of OBCs in Central gazetted jobs has not exceeded five per cent and this is based on a report by the Department of Personnel and Training."
Caste-based census, he said, would help in rationalising such anomalies.