Monday, November 29, 1999

Gogoi supports caste-based census

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New Delhi, Jun 16 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today supported caste-based census in the country saying caste is "a fact of life". "There should be a caste-based census. Cast is a fact of life and it is a reality so there should not be any problem in conducting the caste-based census," he said after meeting Home Minister P Chidambaram at his North Block office. The Centre has constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to go into the ticklish issue of inclusion of caste in census. Other members of the panel include Mamata Banerjee, Farooq Abdullah, M Veerappa Moily, S Jaipal Reddy, Sharad Pawar and Kapil Sibal, government sources said. The GoM has to take a ''political decision'' on whether to include caste in the ongoing census operation, an issue which had seen differences in the government. Several political parties, including Samajwadi Party, RJD and JD(U), have been pressing for inclusion of caste in the census. The issue had figured prominently in the just-concluded Budget Session of Parliament when the Prime Minister had assured the members that government would take their views into account before deciding on the matter. Inclusion of caste in the census was last done in the country in 1931.

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