The BJP has made a clear commitment to doing the caste census. But we feel that states should conduct it first, because they have better information on the subject
The BJP has been committing to caste census for years now. But the truth is that it is a complex exercise. The party will support any move by State governments to enumerate OBCs and STs, but at this point there is no plan as to when it would be done at the national level.
The census is a monumental task, and it is going to be extremely difficult to count people on the basis of caste, but we are committed to it. It should have been done in 2011 itself, but states like Gujarat and Maharashtra did not allow it. We will have to request them again for doing a caste census and then work accordingly. Since we are in power at the Centre, we can push states for conducting one.
I feel there is no shortcut to caste census. It would need lot of preparation and talent. The exercise has to be done with lot of seriousness and commitment. I don’t think the states are ready for it, though they say they are working on it.
Caste census is a complex exercise that involves caste identification, deriving the population of each caste, checking whether they are eligible for reservations and, if so, how much. States have already started doing their own surveys. We will look into it once they are completed.
Populist politics of the Congress, Stalin and Karunanidhi seem to have swayed the chief minister. He has asked for a caste-based census in Tamil Nadu. Yet a caste census is complex and also politically fraught. The BJP is opposed to a caste-based census on the grounds that it could reinforce caste identities. Haphazard implementation could lead to increased regional tensions within states or between states and at one point even the Centre.
It will have serious consequences on affirmative action policies and reservation benefits currently enjoyed by the weaker sections of society – particularly lower castes – across India. A meeting was held in Delhi recently where this issue was discussed by various political leaders including BJP president Amit Shah. So far some states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have already initiated steps to implement a caste census but not all are on board yet