Updated: September 25, 2021 7:47:05 am
A day after the government informed the Supreme Court that it would not be feasible to carry out a caste census, parties in the opposition questioned the BJP’s commitment to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The Congress said the government wanted to “perpetuate the caste system”, and RJD leader Lalu Prasad said the BJP/RSS “hated” backwards.
“They don’t want the real picture to come out, they don’t want a casteless society, they want inequality in the country to prevail… Their rule is like the British rule, the divide and rule policy. I am saying, let the real picture (on caste) come out…,” said M Veerappa Moily, head of a seven-member committee set up by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to study matters related to the caste census.
“They want to perpetuate caste system. Ultimately, if scientific data is available and from time to time reviews can be done, this data will be useful for all socio- economic programmes. Even politically, many communities and castes will be exposed,” Moily told The Indian Express on Friday.
BSP chief Mayawati said the BJP’s submission to the court had exposed its “vote-bank politics” around the OBCs.
“…It is very serious and very worrying, it exposes the BJP’s vote-bank politics over OBCs, and the difference between their words and deeds. Need to be careful,” Mayawati posted on Twitter on Friday.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad posted two strongly-worded tweets saying, “All kinds of birds, animals, and trees can be counted, but not the people of the backward classes! Why does the BJP/RSS hate backwards so much? The caste census will benefit all sections…
“The BJP/RSS are cheating the backward and extremely backward classes. If the central government cannot add a column in the census form to put a number to more than 60 per cent of the country’s population, then shame on its MPs and ministers. They should be boycotted.”
RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha said “the purpose of the demand raised by parties like RJD is to make public the unseen aspects of each caste’s population, and their share in resources”. This, he said, would show not just the population of each caste, but also “how inclusive and homogeneous the development process has been over the last seven decades”.
National president of the JD(U), a BJP ally, Rajiv Ranjan ‘Lalan’ Singh told The Indian Express: “We still hope the Centre would listen to our plea on caste census. An 11-member all-party delegation led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had met the Prime Minister demanding caste census… Just because the central government filed an affidavit in the court does not mean that there cannot be change in policy.”
CPI general secretary D Raja said: “How to formulate policies for affirmative action? For that you need some data. This government announced 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections… On what basis, what is the data they have?” Raja said.
At a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said leaders who liked to project themselves as standing for deprived communities were in fact, promoting their own families. The government has taken a position on “technical grounds”, he said.
Trivedi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy is “sabka saath, sabka vikas”, and the benefits of the government’s programmes were for the poor, irrespective of caste and community. “We stand for respecting all, giving space to everyone and progress of all,” he said.
Asked about BJP allies differing with it, Trivedi said parties are free to take independent positions.