Rajasthan government orders conduct of caste survey

Congress government in the State says the party is committed to this major decision

October 07, 2023 08:45 am | Updated October 08, 2023 02:41 am IST - JAIPUR

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that though the Census could only be conducted by the Centre, the State government was within its rights to take up the survey of families in which their economic condition would also be revealed. File

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that though the Census could only be conducted by the Centre, the State government was within its rights to take up the survey of families in which their economic condition would also be revealed. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Close on the heels of Bihar releasing the caste data, the Congress government in Rajasthan on Saturday ordered a similar caste-based survey to find out the socio-economic status of different sections of society and formulate targeted welfare schemes for them. The survey will be conducted with the State government’s own resources.

As the Social Justice and Empowerment Department issued a notification for the exercise after the State Cabinet’s nod, the survey will continue even after the enforcement of the model code of conduct for the upcoming Assembly election. The release of data may be subject to the approval by the Election Commission, official sources said.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that though the Census could only be conducted by the Centre, the State government was within its rights to take up the survey of families in which their economic condition would also be revealed. “It is a major decision to which our party is committed. We will take it forward,” he said.

The collation of the caste data would enable the State government to prepare schemes for different groups of people engaged in different forms of labour for livelihood, he said.

Also Read | Caste census offers a self-propagating campaign for the Opposition

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Pradesh Congress Committee’s core committee for Assembly election, in Jaipur on Friday. Announcing the decision after the meeting, The collation of the caste data would enable the State government to prepare schemes for different groups of people engaged in different forms of labour for livelihood, he said.

“Getting information about the population of each caste will be crucial for policy formulation and implementation by the [State] government,” Mr. Gehlot said. This would also be in line with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s concept of participation of each caste in proportion to its population, he added.

Major caste groups in Rajasthan, including the Other Backward Classes, have been demanding an increase in reservation in jobs and education in accordance with their percentage in the State’s population. The promise of a Bihar-like caste survey has emerged as an outreach strategy for the Congress in the run-up to this year’s Assembly polls in several States as well as the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Gehlot said the Supreme Court had not passed any order of stay to restrain the Bihar government from acting on the caste survey data. “It is a policy-making decision. We will respect the constitutional spirit and abide by the court’s direction while taking the decision [on survey],” he said.

Talking to journalists on the sidelines of a function in the city, Mr. Gehlot said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had recently announced at a rally in Chittorgarh that the BJP would not stop the welfare schemes started by the Congress government, should implement these very schemes all over the country. “The Prime Minister has accepted that our schemes are really great. We have implemented them here effectively,” he said.

Also Read: Caste census needed to remove inequities in society, CM Siddaramaiah

“Mr. Modi should tell us when the Centre will announce the ₹25 lakh health insurance scheme, similar to our Chiranjeevi Yojana, and restore the Old Pension Scheme as we have done here. Tell us when will you implement the urban employment scheme,” he demanded. Since the Congress had taken big decisions in Rajasthan, Mr. Modi should implement similar measures before joining the election campaign in the State, he suggested.

Meanwhile, the State government on Saturday approved the formation of eight Welfare Boards for different communities and castes to give suggestions on improving their socio-economic conditions. The Boards will also propose schemes for welfare of communities and coordinate with various departments for their implementation.

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