ANI Photo | “Caste Census not a solution for unemployment, prevailing inequalities”: Congress leader Anand Sharma

Opposing the demand for a nationwide caste census, Congress leader Anand Sharma has said that his party has never endorsed the idea of identity politics, adding that the caste census is not a solution for prevailing unemployment and inequalities in the nation.
In his letter to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge dated March 19, Anand Sharma said that the caste census would be misconstrued as disrespecting the legacy of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
“Though caste is a reality of Indian society, Congress has never engaged in nor endorsed identity politics. That is detrimental to democracy in a society with a rich diversity of regions, religions, castes, and ethnicities. As a representative of the National Party, Congress has believed in an inclusive approach that is non-discriminatory in formulating policies for equity and social justice for the poor and underprivileged,” the letter read.
“It is pertinent to recall Indira Gandhi’s clarion call of 1980: “Na jaat par na paat par, Mohar lagegi Haath par”. After the Mandal riots of 1990, Rajiv Gandhi, as a Leader of Opposition, in his historic speech in Lok Sabha on September 6, 1990, said, “We have problems if caste is defined to enshrine casteism in our country…We have problems if casteism is going to be made a factor for parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies…..The Congress cannot stand by and watch this nation being divided……” it added.
Anand Sharma further mentioned that the departure from the historic position, the Congress has taken on this issue is a matter of concern.
“It calls for reflection. In my humble opinion, this will be misconstrued as disrespecting the legacy of Indira ji and Rajiv ji. Also by default, that will be an indictment of successive Congress Governments and their work for empowerment of the disadvantaged sections. It also provides a handle to detractors and political opponents of the congress,” the letter read.
Stating that all Census Commissioners, after independence, have recorded their reasons and disapproval of a National Caste Census, Anand Sharma in his letter said, “It needs mention, that the last census to enumerate caste differentiation, was in 1931 during the British colonial regime. After independence, a conscious policy decision was made by the Government not to canvas caste-related questions in the census, except for SCs and STS, which are collected by the States.”
He also mentioned that carrying out a caste census in the country will have major long-term national implications.
“In my considered view, a Caste Census cannot be a panacea nor a solution for unemployment and prevailing inequalities. A fundamental departure from the time-honoured policy on this critical and sensitive subject has major long-term national implications,” the letter read.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) has already passed a resolution for a nationwide caste-based census if it returns to power at Centre. The decision was taken at a meeting held in the month of October last year.
The Congress further said that the Modi government has ‘cheated’ the OBC communities and other deprived sections of the country by not releasing the data of the 2011 Socio-Economic and Caste Census and not carrying out a fresh Caste Census

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