The Congress party on Saturday favoured releasing caste-based data carried in the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) but advocated caution while doing so in view of social and political sensitivities associated with it. “If the data is there, at some point of time it has to be released. Because when you look at the caste data, it gives you true information on how successful various programmes have been, and who is benefited or not. At some point of time, the data has to be released,” party spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said.
At the same time, he said, “What we want to ensure that the data is released in a sensitive and careful manner so that there is no adverse reaction and it is seen as a true study into the realities of India.”
The release of caste data is considered a political hot potato and there are strong views for and against it, which were voiced even five six years back, when the process for the SECC had begun during the UPA government.
The NDA government yesterday refrained from releasing the caste-based data in its first Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) and maintained that it was concerned with economic data which will help in effective implementation of its programmes.
Brushing aside suggestions that government avoided giving the caste count in the survey report due to political reasons ahead of Bihar polls, Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh had yesterday that it was for the DG Census to take a call on the issue and only he can comment on why the caste count was not put out.
He was asked why the report of the SECC does not include enumeration of caste and whether it will be released in future or not.The SECC 2011, whose process had begun during the UPA government, had led to a huge political controversy with OBC leaders from various political parties including the then government making a strong pitch for enumeration of caste in the SECC on the lines of the 1931 census.
The Yadav trio —Mulayam Singh Yadav from SP, Lalu Prasad from RJD and Sharad Yadav from JD(U) —had in 2010 and 2011 raised the issue vociferously in and outside Parliament demanding that it should be held on the basis of caste to ascertain the number of people belonging to backward classes. There were sharp differences even among the UPA Cabinet on the issue. Those who had opposed it were apprehensive that it could open a pandora’s box and could lead to demands for a fresh look at reservation as well as deepen caste chasm.
This is the first Census after 1931 and contains various details with regard to specific regions, communities, caste and economic groups and measures the progress of households in India.