Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that census be conducted "immediately". The decennial census was to be carried out in 2021 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Kharge also said that a "comprehensive" caste census should be made a part of the census.
"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 Houses of Parliament on a number of occasions as have leaders of many other Opposition parties," Kharge wrote.
Several political leaders including Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, RJD leader and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, CPI-M chief Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien, have demanded a caste census stating that it would benefit marginalised communities.
The caste census was conducted during the 2011 census but the data was not made public. In a rally in Karnataka on Sunday, Rahul Gandhi also said that the data from caste census should be made public.
"UPA in 2011 did the caste-based census. It has the data of all the castes. Mr Prime Minister, you talk of OBCs. Make that data public. Let the nation know how many OBCs, Dalits and tribals are there in the country," Gandhi said.
In the letter, Kharge said that caste census was the "responsibility" of the government.
"In the absence of an updated caste census, I am afraid a reliable database so very essential for meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes, particularly for OBCs, is incomplete. This census is the responsibility of the Union Government," he said.
"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," Kharge wrote.