Congress favours data on caste be released in SECC

RSTV Bureau

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with Minister for Rural Development Birender Singh at the release of the New Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) at North Block in New Delhi on July 3, 2015.

A day after the Central government released Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), the opposition Congress party is of view that caste-based data carried in the latest census be released as well. However, the party advocated caution while doing so in view of social and political sensitivities associated with it.

The BJP-led NDA government on Friday had refrained from releasing the caste-based data in its first Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC). Releasing the data, the Union government had said that it was concerned with economic data which will help in effective implementation of its programmes.

But now, the principal opposition wants the contentious caste based data to be released as well.
“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,” Congress party spokesperson Rajiv Gowda told reporters here.

But knowing that release of caste data may lead to a political debate, given strong views for and against it, the principal opposition also suggested caution in handling the issue.

“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,” Congress spokesperson added.

The SECC 2011, whose process had begun during the Congress-led UPA government, had led to a huge political controversy with some 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.

Strong regional leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav 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, leading to demands for a fresh look at the reservation.

Even at the release of data on Friday, the government was sought why the caste-based data was not released. At which Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said that it was for the DG Census to take a call on the issue.

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 across the country.

(With inputs from the PTI)