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Business News/ News / India/  Explained: Why Opposition parties are demanding caste census ahead of 2024 general elections?
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Explained: Why Opposition parties are demanding caste census ahead of 2024 general elections?

BJP had supported a unanimous resolution passed by the Bihar assembly in the support of the caste census when it was a partner to the government headed by Janata Dal (United) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Opposition parties, including the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP), are holding meetings to push the agenda of the caste census. Premium
Opposition parties, including the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP), are holding meetings to push the agenda of the caste census.

With the 2024 general elections around the corner, the Opposition including Congress, JD(U), RJD, and Samajwadi Party unitedly demanding the caste census and calling it the need of the hour. Rahul Gandhi has recently demanded the 2011 caste census be made public and asked the Karnataka government to breach the 50% reservation cap. 

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government has still not accepted the demand for a socioeconomic caste census. 

BJP sources on Wednesday cited the critical stance of previous Congress governments on the issue of caste census to accuse Rahul Gandhi of "hypocrisy" after the Congress leader came out strongly in support of the census demand in a bid to corner the ruling party, PTI reported. 

In 2019, Congress leader and then Union minister Ajay Maken had written to then Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar that a decision to "discourage community distinction" based on caste was taken keeping in view the spirit of the secular state enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India. 

In 2018, the then Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah did not publish the findings of a caste-based census before the state assembly elections, they said.

They added that Rajiv Gandhi had hit out at the VP Singh government during a debate in Parliament in 1990 for implementing the Mandal Commission, which had recommended reservation for the Other Backward Classes.

The sources informed PTI that Gandhi has termed it as an attempt to divide the country on caste lines and alleged that it was not very different from what the Britishers had done, the sources said.

They also cited the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's stand against caste census and noted that Indira Gandhi followed by Rajiv Gandhi had put the Mandal Commission on the back burner when they were in power, as per PTI reports. 

The BJP has so far not taken an official stand on the issue of caste census, a demand first raised by regional parties like the RJD and the JD(U) and then supported by most other opposition parties.

It is pertinent to mention that the saffron party had supported a unanimous resolution passed by the Bihar assembly in the support of the caste census when it was a partner to the government headed by Janata Dal (United) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The first phase of the caste-based census in Bihar began on January 7 and ended on January 21. The second phase has also started and will continue till May 15. It would cover an estimated population of 12.70 crores across 2.58 crore households in 38 districts, further spread over 534 blocks and 261 urban local bodies. The survey would be completed by May 31, this year.

The caste census means the caste-wise breakup of India's population in numbers and percentages in the Census exercise. In India, the caste census data was published from 1951 to 2011, that too only for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

However, the caste census also publishes population data related to religions, languages, and socio-economic status.

The available data caste census data is about 90 years old, which is often required for welfare programs.

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Published: 21 Apr 2023, 11:12 AM IST
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