Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad demanded that the inclusion of caste in census be approved in the next Parliament session itself to benefit backward communities. "I request Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure the inclusion of caste in census is cleared in the next Parliament session. If there is a delay, there will be a revolution at the national level by the people," he said at a public meeting organised by the Pattal Makkal Katchi in Chennai in support of inclusion of caste in census.
Prasad, who has been strongly pitching for including caste in census, said if the government could ask for a caste certificate and other caste-based information in recruitment for jobs, "why is it not including caste in the census application form?" He also claimed that Singh had assured Parliament during the recent session that the government would go in for the census with caste mentioned in the form, considering sentiments of political parties.
In a lighter vein, Lalu wanted to know "why the government is hesitant to go in for the exercise, when it is taking census of tiger, elephant, lion, peacock and other animals." Claiming that inclusion of caste in census introduced by the British in 1931 had improved the standard of living of SC/STs, he said a similar approach now would benefit these sections more. "Caste is the reality in the country. We cannot ignore it. There is time left for the government to do it because the real census work starts from February 2011," he said.
Prasad also said certain people who opposed the Mandal Commission recommendations were opposing the inclusion of caste in census. "They do not want Other Backward Communities to improve their standard of living," he said. He urged the centre to provide a small column in the census application where applicants could mention their caste. The RJD leader also faulted the United Progressive Alliance government for not controlling prices of essential commodities. "Since most people in the country are farmers, price rise is a serious issue. They should consider it," he said. The leader also said RJD would not join the 'bharat bandh' called by opposition parties in July 5 in protest against the hike in prices in petroleum products.
PMK leader Dr S Ramadoss also said inclusion of caste in census would highlight the socio-economic aspect of the downtrodden and ensure that government schemes benefit them. His son and former union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss claimed 90 per cent of people are in favour of caste column be included in the census application form. Sources said it was discussed in the meeting on how to go about if a decision to include caste in census is taken. It also discussed whether it should be done in one go or in phases, if a decision to such an effect is taken.