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Caste-Based Census Issue To Be Decided By GoM

With consensus eluding, the government on Wednesday decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to take a view on the controversial issue of whether there should be a caste-based census. The Union Cabinet,
PTI May 26, 2010 15:48 IST
PTI

With consensus eluding, the government on Wednesday decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to take a view on the controversial issue of whether there should be a caste-based census.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, discussed the issue over which various ministers are divided, official sources said.

The Cabinet then decided that a GoM should take a view on the issue, they said. The GoM is likely to be headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The Cabinet, which first discussed the issue at length on May 4, has been divided on it.

While Law Minister Veerappa Moily and some others are pushing for caste-based census, Home Minister P Chidambaram has reservations on it.

The Home Ministry is understood to have opined that the present exercise of enumeration should go on and caste could be included later at the time of taking biometric samples.

Several political parties, including Samajwadi Party, RJD and JD(U), have been pressing for caste-based census but the government is moving cautiously on the politically-sensitive matter.

The issue had figured prominently in the just-concluded Budget Session of Parliament when the Prime Minister had assured the members that government would take their views into account before deciding on the matter.

Political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, RJD and JD-U have been strongly demanding inclusion of caste in the census exercise.

The Prime Minister, during his press conference on Monday, said the decision would be taken by the Cabinet.

"I made a statement in Parliament in which I said that we shall take into account the views expressed in Parliament by various sections ...and that I will ask the Cabinet to consider them. That process is on," Singh said.

He said "discussion on the issue will take place in the Cabinet and whatever decision is taken it will be brought before the people."

Caste-based census was last conducted in the country in the year 1931. PTI