Maharashtra: House passes resolution seeking caste-based Census

Maharashtra: House passes resolution seeking caste-based Census

Ruling alliance leaders said Nana Patole did not consult them on his proposal

THE LEGISLATIVE Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to conduct a caste-based census to find out the population of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) across the country. The resolution was moved suo motu by Speaker Nana Patole, a Congress leader, embarrassing the state government as allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress were not consulted regarding the proposal.

While moving the resolution, Patole said: “The new Census will be taken up in 2021. There is a need for the data of OBC population so that they can be given benefits of development... The House can pass a resolution seeking caste-based Census to find out the OBC population.”

Following this, Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, “I think issues related to OBC reservation and population can be discussed in the next session.” He added that the issue can be discussed in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) first and then taken up in the Budget Session beginning next month.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab also said that only the business finalised by the BAC for the day should be taken up by the House. Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis also agreed to the Speaker’s proposal. Earlier, minutes before Speaker Patole moved the resolution, Fadnavis said in the House, “The Centre’s population census drive is not a discriminatory exercise to exclude minorities. On the contrary, population caste/community census is imperative for effective implementation of schemes.”

Maintaining that taking up the issue next month would be too late, Patole said: “In the past, there have been precedents to moot such a proposal. Therefore, what I am doing is not something out of the way. I would like to recommend that there should be a population census on OBC.” Food and Civil Supplies Minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal also said the demand for a caste-based Census is long pending.

Later, speaking to mediapersons, Ajit Pawar said: “The Speaker’s initiative on OBC census was not in my or my party’s knowledge.” A Congress minister added: “Technically, the Speaker has not done anything wrong. But when ver important resolutions or proposals are mooted, at least the CM and senior ministers should be apprised in advance.”