All-party Delegation from Jharkhand Led by CM Hemant Soren Meets Amit Shah, Demands Caste Census


An all-party delegation from Jharkhand led by Chief Minister Hemant Soren met Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday and demanded that a caste-based census be conducted in the country.

The visit came close on the heels of the Centre telling the Supreme Court that a caste census of backward classes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome” and excluding such information from the purview of Census is a “conscious policy decision.”

The delegation led by Soren included the Congress’ Jharkhand unit president Rajesh Thakur, BJP state president and Rajya Sabha member Deepak Prakash, Congress’ legislature party leader Alamgir Alam, AJSU president and ex-deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahato, RJD leader Satyanand Bhoka and representatives of all other parties from the state.

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“All of us met Home Minister Amit Shah and urged him to ensure that a caste-based census is conducted. We apprised him of our state’s sentiments in support of the caste census,” Soren told reporters after the meeting. The Congress’ state president said the Union home minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and assured that he will “look into the matter”.

BJP’s Deepak Prakash evaded a direct reply to reporters question as to whether his party supports caste-census. “The BJP was also part of this all-party delegation. We all know that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government is a well-wisher of the people belonging to backward classes.

“The Modi government gave constitutional status to the OBC Commission and also provided for 27 per cent quota to OBCs in medical and dental colleges. The BJP and its government stand by the people belonging to backward classes,” he said. Prakash added that his party is consistently working for the welfare of the OBCs. CPI-ML leader Vinod Singh, CPI’s Buvaneshwar Mahato, CPI-M’s Suresh Munda NCP MLA Kamlesh Singh and MCC leader Arup Chatterjee were also part of the all-party delegation led by Soren.

Soren handed over to Shah a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that a caste-based demographic survey be carried out during the proposed 2021 census. The letter was signed by all members of the delegation. It stated, “Due to lack of caste data in census surveys conducted since Independence, people from backward classes are facing difficulties in getting special benefits.” “In the proposed census in 2021, the Union government has informed Parliament through a written record that it will not conduct caste census, which is very unfortunate,” it said and underlined it is unfair for people belonging to the backward and extremely backward classes and they are not able to make the expected progress. “If caste census is not conducted now, then neither educational, nor social, political or economic conditions of the backward/extremely backward castes will be properly assessed. This will hamper the formulation of a right policy for their betterment.” In the letter, the all-party delegation said a caste-based census will help remove disparities in society.

“In India, people belonging to SC, ST and Backward Classes have faced the brunt of economic and social backwardness for centuries. After Independence, different classes have developed at varied pace as a result of which the gap between rich and poor has widened.” The delegation noted in the letter that economic inequality in India has “a very strong” relationship with caste. Generally, those in the socially backward category are also economically backward, they said. “In such a situation, caste-based data is needed to remove these disparities. caste-based census, there will be many benefits in the policy-making of the country,” the letter added.

The Centre had a couple of days back filed an affidavit in the apex court saying it has already issued a notification in January last year prescribing the series of information to be collected during Census 2021 and it covers many areas including the information relating to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but does not refer to any other category of caste. It said the exclusion of information regarding any other caste from the purview of Census is a “conscious policy decision” taken by the Central government.

Enumeration of OBCs/BCCs (Backward Class of Citizens) has been always adjudged to be administratively “extremely complex” and even when Census of castes were taken in the pre-independence period, the data suffered in respect of completeness and accuracy, the affidavit stated. The government has also stated that the caste enumeration in Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 was “fraught” with mistakes and inaccuracies.

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