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Modi to head Gujarat census panel
September 10, 2004 23:42 IST
Even as controversy raged over the first national census based on religion, the Gujarat government on Friday announced the formation of a state-level census commission headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The panel will look into aspects like decrease in fertility rate, infant mortality rate and how minorities can help control the population, Health Minister and government spokesman I K Jadeja said.
Jadeja disagreed that the state government had hastened to constitute the commission in the backdrop of the controversy over the national census.
"The setting up of this commission has nothing do with minority community population. In fact, the government wants all communities to contribute to tackling the population explosion problem," he said.
The commission consists of 47 members, including Cabinet ministers, several Bharatiya Janata Party legislators, health department officials, officials from finance, social justice and empowerment, urban and rural development besides representatives of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry and medical associations, official sources said.
The Congress termed the decision as "politically motivated".
"The population policy was declared two years ago and it was announced then that a census commission will also be formed. The decision has been taken when by-polls are slated next month and the timing definitely creates suspicion," a Congress spokesman said.
The BJP, however, said that the criticism was yet another example of how the Congress could put aside national interests for vote-bank politics.
"The criticism... stems from the Congress' policy of minority appeasement. Congress has never been able to rise beyond vote-bank politics", state BJP general secretary Jayanti Barot said in a statement in Ahmedabad.
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