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Cong reserves comments on including caste in census

With the Group of Ministers starting work on the issue of inclusion of caste in the census process, Congress today preferred to reserve its comments till the high-powered panel seeks the party`s views on the matter.



New Delhi: With the Group of Ministers
starting work on the issue of inclusion of caste in the census
process, Congress today preferred to reserve its comments till
the high-powered panel seeks the party`s views on the matter.

"The matter is being discussed by the GoM. They have
apparently decided to elicit the opinion of political parties.
When the GoM approaches us for our opinion, we will articulate
it," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.

He was responding to a volley of questions at the
Congress briefing about the party`s stand on whether caste
should be included in the census exercise or not.

Asked whether the inclusion of caste would divide
society, the spokesman said it was not proper to comment on
the issue as the GoM was still looking at it.

The statement of Tewari comes against the backdrop of
differences within the Cabinet and also the GoM on the vexed
issue.

Divided over whether caste should be included in
census, a Group of Ministers (GoM) yesterday failed to reach a
conclusion on the politically-sensitive issue and decided that
the government would seek views of political parties on the
matter.

The parties will be asked to respond within four weeks,
the GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had
said.

While Law Minister M Veerappa Moily has favoured the
inclusion of caste in census, Union Minister of State for Home
Ajay Maken has strongly opposed it, saying it will divide the
country.

A census including caste was last conducted 79 years ago
in 1931 during the British period.

In the GoM meeting yesterday, some members are understood
to have favoured inclusion of caste while others opposed it,
contending that it could harm the social fabric of the
country.

Government had last month decided to set up the GoM on
the controversial issue after consensus eluded at two meetings
of the Union Cabinet.

Parties like SP, RJD and JD(U) are strongly in favour of
including caste in census and disrupted proceedings of
Parliament in the Budget Session.

The issue of inclusion of caste in census has triggered
a debate with a section opposing it, saying that it would
divide the society on caste lines while others advocate that
it would ensure fairer distribution of resources to the
backward and downtrodden sections of the society.

PTI

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