Cong takes middle path on inclusion of caste in census
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Last Updated: Thursday, May 27, 2010, 19:58
  
New Delhi: Amid reports of a division in the government on the ticklish issue, Congress on Thursday struck a middle path on inclusion of caste in census.

Party spokesman Manish Tewari said that there have been two aspects to the caste census conundrum.

One aspect, he said, was that whether the practice which was abolished in 1931 be re-instituted.

Another aspect was that when there was an expanding phase of affirmative action, there is need to put it on an empirical basis which may require a headcount, Tewari said.

"Therefore, the need to balance the twin imperatives of social cohesion and social inclusion requires that the matter needs to be studied in profound detail and the mechanism of Group of Ministers is the appropriate forum to do that," the Congress spokesman said.

This is for the first time the party, leading the UPA coalition, has spoken on the issue as it had earlier steered clear of the matter saying that it was for the government to take a view on it.

The AICC statement came a day after a meeting of the Union Cabinet decided to set up a GoM to discuss the modalities on the issue amid indications that the government could go in for inclusion of caste in census.

At the meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, several ministers, including M Veerappa Moily, Jaipal Reddy, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Mukul Wasnik and Dayanidhi Maran favoured inclusion of caste in census while M S Gill, Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma had expressed reservations.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who had earlier expressed reservations to the proposal, was cautious on the matter.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who has been heading several GoMs on sensitive subjects, could be given the task to head the group to look into the issue.

Several political parties, including Samajwadi Party, RJD and JD(U), which emerged after the Mandal issue gave surge to politics of backwards nearly two decade back, have been pressing for inclusion of caste in census.

The discussion on the issue in the Lok Sabha had seen that members of almost all parties were in support of the demand.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010, 19:58


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