In letter to Kharge, Anand Sharma takes a stand against Congress’s caste census push | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

In letter to Kharge, Anand Sharma takes a stand against Congress’s caste census push

Mar 21, 2024 06:04 PM IST

Anand Sharma, who also opposed the nationwide caste census back in 2010, said the Congress always believed in an inclusive approach, which is non-discriminatory

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma has written to party chief Mallikarjun Kharge to express concern over the party’s push for a nationwide caste census, saying it might be misinterpreted as disrespecting the legacy of former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Congress’s push for the caste census was a departure from the historic position and a matter of concern. (HT FILE PHOTO)
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Congress’s push for the caste census was a departure from the historic position and a matter of concern. (HT FILE PHOTO)

In a letter to Kharge on Tuesday, Sharma, a prominent member of the G-23 grouping that called for organisational overhaul in the Congress after the 2019 poll debacle, said the Congress has never engaged in or endorsed identity politics, and a departure from this historic position on this critical and sensitive subject “is a matter of concern”.

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

To be sure, Anand Sharma was among the Union ministers in the Manmohan Singh government who vehemently opposed the caste census at cabinet meetings in 2010. The 2011 caste headcount was eventually conducted by the UPA 2 government under pressure from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (United). The data was, however, never released, initially in view of difficulties in processing the caste data. Later, the government said the data was inaccurate.

In his letter, Sharma stressed that the Congress had never engaged in nor endorsed identity politics. “That is detrimental to democracy in a society with a rich diversity of region, religion, caste and ethnicity. As a representative national party, Congress has believed in an inclusive approach, which is non-discriminatory in formulating policies for equity and social justice for the poor and the underprivileged,” he said.

To stress his point, Sharma cited Indira Gandhi’s “Na jaat par na paat par, mohar lagegi haath par” remark in 1980, and Rajiv Gandhi’s remark on casteism — “We have problems if casteism is going to be made a factor for parliamentary and assembly constituencies’’.

The senior Congress leader further said that a “departure from the historic position is a matter of concern”.

“In my humble opinion, this will be misconstrued as disrespecting the legacy of Indira ji and Rajiv ji. Also by default, that will be an indictment of successive Congress Governments and their work for empowerment of the disadvantaged sections. It also provides a handle to detractors and political opponents of the Congress,” he added.

The development comes amid Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s continuous push for a nationwide caste census ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. In October 2023, shortly after the Bihar government released the results of a caste survey conducted in the state, the Congress passed a resolution promising to conduct a National Caste Census and remove the 50% cap on reservation, if it is elected to power.

Sharma, who is also a member of the Congress Working Committee and a former union minister, noted that the Congress-led INDIA bloc, which has also endorsed this promise, includes parties that have “pursued caste-based politics for long”, but that the Congress’s policy on social justice was based on a matured and informed understanding of the complexities of Indian society.

“In my considered view, a caste census cannot be a panacea nor a solution for unemployment and prevailing inequalities... As a party with an inclusive approach, the Congress should strive to reclaim its role as builder of national consensus and build a harmonious society. The articulation of Party position should be balanced and eschew the radical posturing of regional and caste-based organisations,” he added.

Sharma didn’t respond to HT’s calls for comment

Get World Cup ready with Crickit! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Budget 2024, Weather Today along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On