Congress demands caste census in letter to PM Modi

Congress’ demand for a caste census appears to be an attempt to put the BJP, which ran a massive campaign accusing Rahul Gandhi of insulting OBCs with his ‘why all Modis are thieves’ remark, in tight spot.

| Updated: 17 April, 2023 2:38 pm IST
Mallikarjun Kharge
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had dialed Kejriwal to express solidarity in face of CBI summons.

New Delhi: A day after former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi dared BJP leadership to release the 2011 caste-based census data, party chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday placed “on-record” its demand for a comprehensive caste census.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge demanded the conduct of a comprehensive up-to-date caste census. “I am writing to you to once again place on record the demand of the Congress for an up-to-date Caste Census.”

The Congress president said that the demand was raised by him, other Congress MPs and MPs of many other Opposition parties in parliament.

“You are aware that for the first time the UPA government conducted a Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) during 2011-12 covering some 25 crore households. For a number of reasons, however, the caste data could not get published even though Congress and other MPs demanded its release after your government came to power in May 2014,” Kharge said in his letter.

The Congress chief further said that in the absence of an updated caste Census, “I am afraid a reliable data base so very essential for meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes, particularly for OBCs, is incomplete”.

“This Census is the responsibility of the Union Government,” said Kharge, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

“I would also like to point out that the regular decennial Census was to be carried out in 2021 but it has not yet been conducted. We demand that it be done immediately and that a comprehensive Caste Census be made its integral part,” he added.

Kharge’s letter to PM Modi came a day after Rahul Gandhi told an election rally in Karnataka’s Kolar, where a speech in 2019 led to his parliament disqualification, there are only seven per cent other backward castes, Dalits and tribals as secretaries in the Central government and demanded the 50 per cent cap on reservation be removed.

“UPA in 2011 did the caste-based census. It has the data of all the castes. The prime minister talks of OBCs. Make that data public. Let the nation know how many OBCs, Dalits and tribals are there in the country,” Rahul Gandhi had said at the Congress’ ‘Jai Bharat’ election rally.

He said, “Please release the caste census data so that the nation knows how much is the population of OBCs, Dalits and tribals. If you don’t do this, then it is an insult to the OBCs. Also, remove the cap of 50 per cent on reservations.”

Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar, who is part of the Grand Alliance in the state, has been at the forefront for the caste census data, with support from his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad.

Former union minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader, late Ram Vilas Paswan was also vocal for the release of the caste census data. Last week, Nitish Kumar held a meeting with Gandhi and Kharge in New Delhi over Opposition unity.

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