A day after the Cabinet decided to refer the caste census issue to a Group of Ministers (GoM), there were strong reactions on the issue.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav accused the government of resorting to “delaying tactics’’ and demanded that caste be mentioned in the unique Identity card. Shiv Sena’s Bal Thackeray strongly opposed such a headcount. The BJP, which had backed such enumeration, has of late been silent, while the RSS has come out against a caste census.
Though the CPI(M) had earlier backed such a headcount, on Thursday it accused the government of flirting with the issue to get the civil nuclear liability passed and “appease US imperialism”.
The Congress broke its silence but trod the middle path, with spokesman Manish Tewari talking of the need to balance the twin imperatives of “social cohesion and social inclusion”.
On Wednesday, a divided cabinet had decided to refer the caste census issue to the GoM.
Though there is no official word on it, a veteran of over 40 GoMs in UPA-I, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, could chair this one too. Allies like Sharad Pawar or Mamata Banerjee could be part of the panel that would submit its report “at the earliest”.
The names of A.K. Antony and P. Chidambaram are also doing the rounds.