RSS opposes caste census, says it will aggravate inequality | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

RSS opposes caste census, says it will aggravate inequality

Dec 19, 2023 06:36 PM IST

Senior RSS functionaries made the organisation’s stand on the caste census clear to Maharashtra’s ruling party legislators.

NAGPUR:TheRashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Tuesday said that it does not support the demand for a caste-based census, asserting that such a move would aggravate social inequalities in the country.

A senior RSS functionary said a caste-based census can only deepen the rift within the society. (File)
A senior RSS functionary said a caste-based census can only deepen the rift within the society. (File)

Senior RSS functionaries made the organisation’s stand clear to the legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena (Shinde group) from both the Maharashtra State Assembly and Council, who visited the RSS’ Smruti Mandir complex in Nagpur on Tuesday.

“We do not see any benefits in it, instead see harm. It is the root of inequality and it is not justified to promote it,” Shridhar Ghadge, senior RSS pracharak and chief of Vidarbha prant, told the gathering of the saffron party legislators.

He further expressed the RSS’s readiness to engage with the government if the purported benefits of a caste census are adequately explained. During the visit of ministers and legislators, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary of the organisation, Dattatreya Hosabale, were not in Nagpur. Interestingly, chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis were notably absent during Tuesday’s visit to the RSS premises.

Despite the NCP’s involvement in the Maharashtra government, none of its members, including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, were part of the visit. They ignored the BJP invitation and refrained from visiting the RSS office. Amol Mitkari, representing the NCP (Ajit Pawar faction), commented that it is within the rights of a particular party to decide whether or not to visit a specific place. “It is the prerogative of every party on whether to visit a particular place or not. While the NCP received an invitation from the BJP, no one from our side attended,” Mitkari explained and pointed out that deputy chief minister Pawar has consistently asserted that he would not compromise on his secular principles since his faction joined the coalition government.

The opposition to the caste-based census from the RSS comes after Union home minister Amit Shah mentioned last month that the BJP was not opposed to a caste-based census in the wake of such a census conducted by the Bihar government.

Responding to Shah’s statement, Ghadge said political parties may have their own stance on any of the issues, but the RSS wants to make it clear that it does not support the caste-based census. “The RSS has been promoting social equality. In our country, there are schisms in the name of caste. If caste is the root of inequality in society, the RSS believes that it should not be further aggravated by actions like a caste-based census,” he said.

During the annual briefing on the organisation’s stance, Ghadge outlined key points for the ruling coalition legislators, including social equality, opposition to a caste-based census, Swadeshi, family values, and awareness about environmental issues.

Agreeing that caste-based discrimination has existed for ages and would take time to be entirely eradicated, the RSS functionary said the census can only deepen the rift.

On the absence of Ajit Pawar faction MLAs from the Smruti Mandir visit, Ghadge clarified that the yearly visit is voluntary, with no formal invitation extended by the RSS. He noted that it is at the lawmakers’ discretion to attend.

Against the backdrop of opposition parties making a demand for caste census, a key issue in the upcoming state Assembly elections, the RSS has initiated a “samajik samrasta” (social harmony) project, under which activists are spreading awareness against caste discrimination and untouchability by engaging with people, at schools and temples in villages across the country.

The issue was also discussed during the three-day Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak (All India Executive Committee meeting) of the Sangh, held in Bhuj, Gujarat, last month. Dilip Deodhar, a former RSS activist and now an observer, highlighted the Sangh Parivar’s focus on “one well, one temple, and one crematorium” since 2015, aiming to unite Hindus and eliminate caste discrimination.

Earlier, RSS national executive member and former BJP functionary, Ram Madhav had also warned opposition governments in states such as Bihar that the caste census could trigger social unrest in the country.

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