Friday, May 7, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Caste census sees political consensus

Caste census sees political consensus
7 May 2010, 0401 hrs IST,ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet may have been unable to hammer out a consensus
on the demand for caste-based census, but the issue saw a rare
unanimity being
displayed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, with parties rising above
ideological distinction to seek a head-count on the basis of caste

The oneness in the views of political parties in the Lok Sabha is
likely to exert pressure on the Manmohan Singh government to go in for
caste-based census. OBC parties such as the Samajwadi Party and Janata
Dal (United) and former Union minister Beni Prasad Verma, a former SP
stalwart who now adorns the Congress benches, warned of a major social
upheaval if the demand was not accepted.

While SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav warned those going against the
`majority view' of getting into trouble, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav
described caste system as a ``volcano ready to erupt if the government
fails to take steps to uplift the downtrodden.'' And Mr Verma talked
about a `rebellion' on the lines of what had taken place in the
post-Mandal era in the 90s, ``which had given birth to leaders such as
Mulayam Singh ji, Lalu Prasad ji and even Mayawati ji.''

``When the government can count the number of trees and nullahs in the
survey, what is the problem in adding a column to include castes in
the ongoing exercise,'' Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav asked while
participating in the debate on the demand for caste-based census.

The SP leader said he was happy that the issue of inclusion of castes
in the census exercise was discussed by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
``While some supported the idea, there were some who opposed it. It is
because of our mentality (that the idea was opposed),'' he said. In a
veiled attack on those who reportedly opposed the move in the Cabinet
meeting, he said, ``one day, people will come to know who supported
and who opposed the move.''

Likening caste to "garbage", he said in a bid to cleanse it, the
makers of the Constitution have made provisions to provide special
opportunities for the deprived. His views were endorsed strongly by Mr
Sharad Yadav. ``Be it good or bad, caste system in India is a reality,
where injustice is meted out to the downtrodden at every step,'' he
contended, adding, ``The system of caste in India is worse than
apartheid, where the distinction was merely on the colour of the skin.
Here, the discrimination leads to exploitation at every stage,'' he

He said even political parties distribute tickets based on castes.
``It is unfair that you still do not want castes to be included in
census,'' the JD(U) leader protested. The BJP's deputy leader in the
Lok Sabha, Mr Gopinath Munde too said that caste was a reality which
just could be obliterated. ``I went for an inter-caste marriage, and
yet my caste identity remains as strong as before,'' the former
Maharashtra deputy chief minister, who's himself an OBC, said.


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