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Caste-based census: all-party delegation from Maharashtra to meet PM, Shah

Centre rejects January 8 resolution passed by Assembly seeking enumeration of OBCs: Speaker

February 29, 2020 01:46 am | Updated 01:46 am IST - Mumbai

The Census exercise begins from April 1 and the government needs to resolve the issue at the earliest.

The Census exercise begins from April 1 and the government needs to resolve the issue at the earliest.

An all-party delegation from Maharashtra will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to seek enumeration of OBCs in the 2021 census.

This was announced by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in Assembly on Friday after the Speaker Nana Patole asked him to make a statement on the issue.

The matter came up in Assembly after question hour when Vikas Thakre (Congress) sought to know the Union government’s reply to a resolution passed by the Assembly on January 8 urging the Centre to hold caste-based Census in 2021. Mr. Patole said the Centre has rejected the unanimous resolution passed by the House.

He read out the reply from Vivek Joshi, Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India, which said, “collection of data of OBCs, SEBCs, other castes etc. will adversely affect integrity of census exercise. Hence the enumeration of OBCs, SEBCs, other castes has not been taken up in 2021 Census which has been notified in Gazette of India on March 28, 2019.” The Census exercise would begin from April 1 and therefore the government needs to resolve the issue at the earliest, the letter said.

Bihar assembly too, few days ago, passed a similar resolution seeking caste-based census for the enumeration of the OBCs.

The letter said that total number of OBCs in the country is nearly 6,285 including sub-castes, sub-groups, synonyms etc. whereas the corresponding number of OBCs as per lists of States and UTs is 7,200. “In case, a question on OBCs is canvassed, it will return names of hundreds of thousands of castes, sub-castes as the people use their clan/gotra, sub-caste, caste interchangeably,” it said. The letter added that unlike Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, there is no such constitutional mandate to provide census numbers of OBCs.

Senior minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal said the Centre’s excuse of “too many” caste is not valid as equal number of castes were existing in 1931 where caste-based Census was carried out. “Today we have technology, human resource which we can use to do this. I suggest that a delegation of CM, Deputy CM, LoP and senior leaders should meet PM Narendra Modi for the same,” he said.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said a policy decision at the Centre needs to be taken. “BJP too is positive on this demand and I am sure that we can find out a way if we decide to meet the PM together,” he said.

Senior NCP leader and Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said that the Assembly need not wait for Centre’s order. “The staff conducting the Census will be of State government. Let this Assembly pass a resolution asking them to include an OBC column. Let this be the guiding light for rest of the country. Let’s do OBC census of Maharashtra,” said Mr. Awhad.

Congress leader and minister Vijay Vadettiwar, and independent MLA Ashish Jaiswal seconded the demand to hold State census of OBCs, while BJP MLA Yogesh Sagar said it would not be appropriate to do so.

It was then that Mr. Patole asked Mr. Pawar to make a statement regarding the same.

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