This article, first published at 11.45 am on April 17, was republished at 10.30 am on April 18.
New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking once again for a caste census.
Kharge tweeted the letter today, April 17, a day after Congress flagged off its campaigns in poll-bound Karnataka with a rally by Rahul Gandhi and Kharge at Kolar.
Kolar was incidentally the venue where Rahul Gandhi made his “why do all thieves have the Modi surname?” comment in 2019, which has now led to a defamation conviction and his disqualification from parliament.
Gandhi also took to Twitter to lend support to Kharge’s demand. He told the Prime Minister that the underprivileged of the country need economic and political power and not “empty words”.
“Prime Minister, the underprivileged need political and economic power, not empty words. Take these three steps: Make the 2011 census figures public, tell how many OBCs are there in the country; Remove 50% cap from reservation; Give reservation to Dalits, Tribals according to population.”
प्रधानमंत्री जी, वंचितों को खोखले शब्द नहीं, राजनीतिक और आर्थिक शक्ति की ज़रूरत है।
ये तीन कदम उठाइए:
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 17, 2023
Both Kharge and Gandhi attacked the Narendra Modi government at Kolar on Sunday, April 16, on topics ranging from its links to the Adani group to the revelations made by Satya Pal Malik in an interview to The Wire.
The caste census demand has been voiced by several opposition parties. However, such an exercise does not appear likely. India’s last Census was in the year 2011, something Kharge points out. The Census, scheduled for 2021, had initially been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is the full text of Kharge’s letter.
Dear Prime Minister:
I am writing to you to once again place on record the demand of the Indian National Congress for an up-to-date Caste Census. My colleagues and I have raised this demand earlier in both House of Parliament on a number of occasions as have leaders of many other Opposition parties.
You are aware that for the first time the UPA Government conducted a Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) during 2011-12 covering some 25 crore households. For a number of reasons, however, the caste data could not get published even though Congress and other MPs demanded its release after your government came to power in May 2014.
In the absence of an updated Caste Census, I am afraid a reliable data base so very essential for meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes, particularly for OBCs, is incomplete. This Census is the responsibility of the Union Government.
I would also like to point out that the regular decennial Census was to be carried out in 2021 but it has not yet been conducted. We demand that it be done immediately and that a comprehensive Caste Census be made its integral part.
With warm personal regards,