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Govt Not Divided Over Caste-Based Census: Khurshid

Amid the controversy over caste- based census, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday  said broadly it is clear that such population survey is to be carried out and dispelled the impression that the government
PTI May 28, 2010 20:40 IST
PTI

Amid the controversy over caste- based census, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday  said broadly it is clear that such population survey is to be carried out and dispelled the impression that the government is divided on the issue. 

"...broadly it is clear that this (caste-based census) is to be done. The Group of Ministers (GoM) will decide how it is to be done and which way it is to be done. (That), GoM will decide," Khurshid told PTI in an interview.

Khurshid's statement came a day after Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken wrote to young MPs urging them to oppose the regressive move of caste-based census that was being pushed as part of "divisive agenda for short-term political gain".

Khurshid sought to dispel speculation that the government is divided over the issue of caste-based census, saying there are "different views" on the issue. 

"While there are no differences, there are different views coming in. We have Mr Ajay Maken saying that look it is a regressive backward looking study, this is what it is," he said. He said every time somebody discusses something, "the media says there is division in the Government. 

"We are not automatons that somebody says do and (we say) ok we will do it. That's not the way.... Government is not divided...Prime Minister has taken a decision in Parliament.  "How it has to be implemented is to be considered. A GoM has been set up. People have different views and we can have different views depending on what premise to begin with," Khurshid added. 

Asked about his personal view on the issue, he said, "I have no personal view on this at all. I subscribe to the view that sociologists have that if you want to study the society, you must know the truth about the society." The Cabinet on Wednesday had decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to take a view on the politically-sensitive question of including caste in the census. 

Sources said the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saw divergent views being expressed, with some ministers favouring it while some others expressing reservations. The Cabinet then decided that a GoM should take a view on the issue, the sources said. The GoM is likely to be headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. 

Sources said the GoM would also finalise the modalities involved if castes are to be included in census. While no time-frame has been set, the general feeling among the ministers was that the GoM should come out with a decision early. PTI