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