Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The Bihar government’s caste census report has stirred up a hornet’s nest in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi cavilled at it at a recent public meeting in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Prime Minister accused the opposition parties of playing with the emotions of the poor and promoting divisive tactics.
They had already divided the country in the name of caste and, now, they are committing the same sin, he said. On the other hand, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has launched a scathing attack on Modi, contending that the PM is incapable of overseeing an accurate caste census. According to Gandhi, three out of four Chief Ministers in Congress-ruled states hail from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
On the contrary, the BJP has only one OBC chief minister out of ten, Rahul said, adding that the Prime Minister was not addressing the issues related to OBC. Now, the question is what will be its impact on the upcoming election in MP, where the number of OBC voters is very high. The state has already given three OBC chief ministers –Babulal Gaur, Uma Bharti and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. On the other hand, the Congress is trying to cash in on the caste census report in Bihar, and has announced, that if it comes to power in MP, the party will conduct caste census.
The Congress has made the caste census an election issue in the state; however, what will be its effect on the poll outcome only the time will tell.
Against this backdrop, Free Press talked to a few residents in Bhopal to know their opinions on this contentious issue. There was a mixed response from them. Excerpts:
It shouldn’t be limited to particular religion, area
Shantanu Thakur, key accounts manager said, “I believe the caste census should be done for a diverse country like ours, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be limited to any particular religion or area. It should be done for all the citizens to know the status of all the people in the country. It shouldn't be restricted to getting political mileage, but to the development and uplifting of the castes and people who are lacking in some various aspects. The caste census can provide us with the socio-economic and educational status of the people. We can also provide reservation to the ones who really need it.”
No need to conduct cast-based census
Abhiraj Singh Rajput, an engineer, said, “I believe there is no need to conduct caste census. India is already facing the consequences of caste system. Division based on caste creates unrest in society; political leaders do this kind of propaganda just to deviate people from the real issues. Further in this tech-savvy modern world, the need of the hour is to go for meritocracy rather than providing reservations based on one’s caste. If people are aware of the bad effects of the caste census, they themselves will reject it.”
Religious equality needed
Apoorva Parihar, a software engineer, said, “If India is to uphold its status as a secular nation, there should be no room for a caste census. This caste census might create chasm between man and man in the society. Nevertheless, if such a census is indeed considered necessary, it must be conducted for all religions to ensure inclusivity and equal representation.”
Caste census is important
Amisha Kadve, a student, said, “Caste census is important for equal distribution of resources among the people who are poor and downtrodden. Caste has become an inseparable part of our identity. Therefore, it is the need of the hour.
Politicians divert attention from issues
Mufaddal Saifee, a student, said, “I believe that caste census should not be conducted in India, since will be detrimental to growth, and its consequences will be awful. Caste census may deprive individuals of their privacy, since sensitive information may be used for the purpose beyond policy implementation. The politicians do this kind of propaganda to divert people’s attention from the important issues.”