UP polls: Akhilesh Yadav promises caste census if SP voted to power

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday promised to conduct a caste census in Uttar Pradesh if voted to power in the Assembly elections scheduled to take place next year.

Former chief minister Yadav promised to ensure that the backward classes get their rights. He criticised the Centre for not undertaking the exercise, PTI reported.

“The BJP government at the Centre does not want to conduct caste census as it knows that backwards will demand their right and due respect after it,” Yadav claimed.

“This is the biggest demand of backwards and Dalits.”

Akhilesh was in Kannauj to unveil the statue of former party MLA Kaptan Singh Yadav.

The caste-based census has not happened in India since the British period. In July, the Union government had told Parliament that it had decided to not conduct a caste census. The only caste-wise data that the next census would collate would be on Scheduled Castes and Tribes, the same as every census in independent India’s history. India’s largest caste bloc – the Other Backward Classes – would not be included in this exercise.

Last week, Leader of opposition in the Bihar Legislative Assembly and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav reached out to non-BJP leaders across the country seeking their support on the issue of caste census for backward classes.

The recent move comes after the Union government’s recent affidavit in Supreme Court that a caste census of the backward classes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome.”

In the letter addressed to a total of politicians including Nitish Kumar, Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, and Arvind Kejriwal, Yadav said “it bears repeating for a brazenly callous government that the caste system, which Dr. B R Ambedkar referred to as a system of graded inequality, has been a great source of disadvantage for a significantly large section of population.”

Led by CM Nitish Kumar, the ruling JDU and Opposition party RJD leaders in Bihar, had earlier met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put forth their demand for caste-based census.

“I am open to suggestions and inputs from you so that we immediately prepare our plan of action in this regard without any further delay”, said Yadav.

All non-BJP Chief Ministers, including Uddhav Thackeray, M K Stalin, Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrasekhar Rao and Jaganmohan Reddy, besides heads of political parties not aligned with the NDA like Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Parkash Singh Badal and Sitaram Yechury have been marked a copy of the letter, reported PTI news agency.

The letter was also sent to the NDA’s alliance partners in Bihar, including Kumar, Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi and Vikassheel Insaan Party president Mukesh Sahni also figure in the list.

Akhtarul Iman, state president of the AIMIM, also has been sent the letter.

“The demand for caste based census needs to be seen as an essential step in nation building. The caste census once conducted would actually bring to the forefront the pressing concerns that a country like India must attend to with a sense of urgency. This is a historic opportunity before us to push for an agenda that is essential for making this country more just and egalitarian. It would play a pivotal role in ensuring social harmony and social cohesion,” reads the letter.