Modalities of caste census to be worked out: Centre

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 14 2010, 04:59am hrs
A day after the group of ministers (GoM) gave a go-ahead for caste enumeration in the ongoing census exercise, the government told the Lok Sabha on Thursday that the timing and the mechanism will be worked out by the Cabinet.

Finance minister and leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee, who headed the GoM, made this announcement to restore normalcy in the House after the Opposition members forced an adjournment without taking up Question Hour.

As Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till noon, Mukherjee and home minister P Chidambaram met with several leadersSharad Yadav of the JD(U), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD), Gopinath Munde (BJP) and Sameer Bhujbal (NCP)to sort out the issue. Sources in the Opposition said the ministers indicated to them that the government was inclined to go in for a caste census, but it could not publicly state how it would be done on the floor of the House without the Cabinet having taken a formal decision.

As soon as the House met, Mukherjee could be seen trying to catch the attention of deputy Speaker Karia Munda to make the government position clear. Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also seen gesturing to Munda to let Mukherjee speak. Munda, however, started off with paper-laying, making Mukherjee wait for a while.

He told the Lok Sabha: The GoM wrote to all the political parties and we have received the response from the political parties. The GoM met on Wednesday and they considered the written response of all the political parties. The decision taken by the GoM is that caste will be converged in the census without affecting the integrity of the head-count. How and when this should be done is under consideration. Some suggestions have been made by the leaders today. All these will be kept in view and an appropriate decision on the mechanism will be taken shortly. As the decision will have to be taken by the Cabinet, only after the Cabinet takes the decision, I will be able to inform the House.

Earlier, the three Yadavs, Munde and Dara Singh Chauhan of the BSP held up Question Hour on the issue. Sharad Yadav said the Election Commission had not been able to prepare photo identity cards for 15 years.