A divided GoM examining the issue of caste-based census played for time on Friday and decided to write to all parties to seek their response. The parties get four weeks to decided on whether they want such a census and when the process should start.
Two slots were discussed — December, when the biometric capture phase for the National Population Register starts or February 2011 when the second phase of census begins.
At the meeting, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Home Minister P. Chidambaram opposed caste census. Chidambaram reportedly even proposed a separate column ‘No Caste’ in the form, asking what caste his grandchildren can claim in view of the inter-caste marriages in his family. Sibal said the Congress and late PM Jawaharlal Nehru have been against the caste system.
But their views were countered by DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed who said the PM had promised a caste census in May’s Budget Session. Maran wanted an early rollout of the caste enumeration while Khursheed maintained that caste is a reality and here to stay. Wasnik urged that such a census should be “done properly”.