New Delhi: Like Congress and BJP, NCP
too is divided on the issue of inclusion of caste in the
census, the exercise for which has already been set in motion.
A meeting of NCP office bearers, presided by party
chief Sharad Pawar, today saw divergent views on the issue,
party sources said.
A section of party leaders, including Maharashtra
Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, is a strong votary of
inclusion of caste in the census. Bhujbal is the prominent OBC
face of the party whose support base in Maharashtra is
primarily among the dominant Maratha community.
Bhujbal`s nephew and party MP from Nashik, Sameer
Bhujbal, had made a strong pitch for inclusion of caste in the
exercise while speaking in the Lok Sabha.
However, a party leader today said that the Nashik MP
had spoken in his personal capacity in the Lok Sabha.
The party has been virtually forced to do a balancing
act on the issue so as to keep its support base intact.
Like other major parties, NCP has been asked to convey
its stand on caste in census to the government by August 7.
Pawar is understood to have asked the office bearers
to gauge the opinion of the party workers and convey the same
to him to enable him to take a final view on the issue.
Meanwhile, the NCP has decided to hold its National
Convention in Patna on August 5-6. The party`s Working
Committee will meet on August 5, while the National Convention
will be held the next day.
The party had declared that it will seek to form
secular, democratic alliances across the country where it is
unable to go with the Congress in the assembly polls.
The Left Democratic Front in Kerala has already
admitted the NCP in its fold and the party will contest the
elections in the state next year as part of the alliance.
"Basically, the idea is to go with the Congress
wherever possible. If not, we will have no alternative but to
find new allies," a senior party leader said.
He said the issue of Pawar asking Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh to reduce his ministerial responsibilities was
not discussed at today`s meeting.