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Divisions remain in Cong, BJP over caste in census

Divisions appear to be persisting in both Congress and BJP over the issue of inclusion of caste in census with the deadline approaching fast for all parties to finalise their stand.



New Delhi: Divisions appear to be persisting
in both Congress and BJP over the issue of inclusion of caste
in census with the deadline approaching fast for all parties
to finalise their stand ahead of the meeting of a key
committee this week.

The top brass of both the parties are expected to meet in
the next few days to take a call on the issue.

A draft position paper is under preparation in Congress
with many a senior leader including lawyers and academics
involved in the exercise amid no sign of a consensus in the
party over the ticklish issue.

Similar is the story in BJP, which too is grappling with
how best to approach the issue -- given the reservations of
the RSS as also a section of the party -- without antagonising
its leaders from backward classes.

In the BJP, differences are also on the modalities of
inclusion of caste in census with a section of the party
supporting the idea of having a dedicated column to register
the data while some leaders feel it should be listed under the
OBC, SC or ST category.

Some senior leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi are still
openly opposed to the inclusion of caste in census.

According to a Congress leader, the issues that are
being discussed in his party is whether such an exercise is at
all required, if it it is be done whether only OBCs should be
enumerated or all castes, whether it should be a one time
affair or it should be institutionalised and whether inclusion
of caste in the census is possible in its current form.

The party leader said that once the draft paper is
prepared, it can be taken to the Core Committee and then to
the Congress Working Committee to arrive at a final view. He
said that though a section of the party leaders is totally
against inclusion of caste in census, political fallout of
opposing the exercise will be taken into account.

The dilemma of the party on the issue is understandable
as it comes at a time when the party is trying to revive
itself in the Hindi belt -- Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where it
remained out of power for last over 20 years after the Mandal
politics.

A meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by
Pranab Mukherjee is expected on August six to finalise its
report.

All political parties have been asked by Mukherjee to
give their views on the matter by that day and it is still
unclear as to how many parties have so far responded.

Lalu Prasad`s RJD has already given its view in
writing, while JD-U wanted the government to go ahead with the
inclusion of caste in census without any "delaying tactics".

-PTI

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