New Delhi: Cornered by the opposition on its ‘reluctance’ to conduct caste-based census, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Other Backward Class (OBC) unit chief K. Laxman has shifted the onus on the state governments.
Speaking to ThePrint, the BJP OBC Morcha national president said states are free to conduct their own census and use that data to begin with.
“Who is stopping the states from conducting their own survey? They can carry out a survey and use the data to help them implement their policies,” Kumar said.
“As far as the Centre is concerned, carrying out such an exercise at the national level requires thorough research and consensus. Once the state data is available we can take forward things from there,” he said.
Ruling out the possibility of a caste-based census through the Census 2021 exercise, the Narendra Modi government told the Supreme Court that population census is not the ideal instrument for collection of details on caste.
In an affidavit filed before the court on 21 September, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment termed it infeasible to collect information on Backward Class of Citizens (BCC) in the census.
Apart from Opposition parties such as the Samajwadi Party, BJP allies, including Nitish Kumar and Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel, have also been demanding a caste census. Kumar even called caste-based census a “legitimate demand”, adding that he would convene an all-party meeting for the same.
Opposition showing hypocrisy, says Laxman
However, BJP OBC Morcha chief K. Laxman said Opposition parties that are trying to make this into an issue only highlight their hypocrisy.
“The Karnataka government had conducted a caste-based survey but (Congress CM) Siddaramaiah dragged its feet when it came to making the data public,” he said.
“As far as the opposition parties are concerned, who are trying to make it into an issue, it only points to their hypocrisy. They have no moral right to say all this because while they claim to be the champions of SC, ST and OBC, in reality they have done nothing,” Laxman added.
“What was the Congress doing for so many years? Why did they not do it? Even what they ultimately did in 2011 is full of mistakes, the data can’t be trusted. Under the UPA, private agencies, NGOs and all were deployed to conduct the census and crores were spent on the exercise but ultimately what has come out? We have data which can’t be trusted as it is fraught with mistakes,” he added.
With assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and other states set to take place early next year, the Opposition has already made caste census into a major issue.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who has been demanding a caste-based census and that 2011 data be made public, has accused the Yogi Adityanath government of denying the OBCs their due by not conducting a caste-based census.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)