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Kharge urges Modi government for caste census

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the government to conduct a caste census in India. This comes a day after senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised the question of the proportion of population belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC), and demanded to know the strength of the OBC community in the country. The Congress is reportedly planning to make the Modi government’s reluctance to conduct a caste census a central issue in its campaign for the 2024 general elections, countering the BJP’s strategy of unifying the backward community under the Hindutva umbrella.

Mr. Kharge’s letter, dated April 16 and coinciding with Mr. Gandhi’s speech in Kolar, Karnataka, reiterated the need for meaningful social justice and empowerment programs based on updated data. He also highlighted the Modi government’s failure in conducting the decennial census, which was scheduled to be conducted in 2021. He stated that the absence of an updated caste census has left a reliable database incomplete, particularly for OBCs, and called for its immediate completion as an integral part of the census.

The Congress’s demand for a caste census is also seen as a counter to the BJP’s campaign against Mr. Gandhi for his 2019 comments on “why all thieves have Modi surname,” made during an election rally in Kolar. The Congress is reportedly in touch with other opposition parties, such as RJD, JD(U), SP, and others, to amplify the campaign. In Bihar, where the Congress is in government in alliance with RJD and JD(U), the government is already conducting a caste census.

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