INDIA will conduct caste census if voted to power, says Rahul
Gandhi’s promise came two days after he pitched for the census and reservation for OBCs in the women’s reservation bill during a discussion in the Lok Sabha
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi promised on Friday that the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) will conduct a caste census, if voted to power in the upcoming general elections, to determine the actual representation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).
Gandhi’s promise came two days after he pitched for the census and reservation for OBCs in the women’s reservation bill during a discussion in the Lok Sabha.
The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam — a Constitution amendment bill that was approved by both Houses of Parliament — aims to provide one-third reservation for women in the Lok Sabha, state assemblies and the legislative assembly of Delhi. The Opposition, however, has raised objection to a provision in the bill that says the political reservation for women will come into effect after the delimitation exercise (which can’t take place before 2026) and the completion of the decennial census that was due in 2021.
Reiterating the demand on Friday, Gandhi said that the government should conduct a caste census and make public its findings along with that of the 2011 socioeconomic caste census conducted during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.
“If we want to distribute power to the people of India, we want to know this number, otherwise we are working without data... All this data is available as the census has already been done. Why is the prime minister not releasing this data?” he asked.
“What is this delay in this census? The caste census should be done now and the last caste census data should be released at once,” he said.
He then promised to conduct the census if the INDIA bloc is voted to power.
“As soon as our government comes, the caste census will be done. The country will know how many OBCs, SCs, STs there are. This would not be done in a day but our intention is clear,” he said.
In an interview with news agency ANI, Union minister Giriraj Singh said, “...It should be asked from ...Rahul Gandhi why OBCs weren’t given recognition in the Constitution earlier...For so much time Congress was in power...”
Referring to his allegation in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that there were only three secretary-level officers in the government of India who are from OBCs, he said only 5% of the budget is allocated for them. The budgetary allocation for OBCs, Dalits and tribals put together is just 6 %, he said.
“I was shocked to find just three of the 90 most important secretaries are OBCs. Do the OBCs constitute just 5% of India? Is that the participation we want of OBCs? So the question is how many OBCs? The only way to know this is caste census,” he said.
He further alleged that the BJP has concentrated power in the hands of few people. “You can ask any MP [member of Parliament] or MLAs [member of legislative assembly], how much they participate in the lawmaking... The fact is a large mass of Indian people do not have any power.”
Asked if he regretted that the erstwhile UPA government did not give OBC quota in its women’s reservation bill passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010, Gandhi said, “There is 100 per cent regret. We should have done that back then and we will get this done now.”
Gandhi said that the Congress extended its full support to the bill but there is no certainty about the date of its implementation and its implementation is dependent on the census and delimitation exercise.
“Women’s reservation is a central step in the empowerment of women in India and it is a critical step. But, when we read the fine print, we found something very interesting. Two little sub-texts were there - this will be done after delimitation and that this will be done after Census. What it means is that this bill will be implemented a decade from now,” he said.
“The truth is that this bill will be implemented in 10 years from now, if it is implemented at all... The problem with the bill is implementation. The 10-year delay...means nothing,” he added.