New Delhi: The Congress on Monday accused the government of resorting to caste-based politics to attack the Opposition and resisting a socio-economic and caste census in the country.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the underprivileged need economic and political power and not empty words as he again called for removing the 50 per cent cap on quota and demanded reservations for Dalits and tribals based on their population.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding an up-to-date caste census, saying meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes are incomplete in the absence of such data.
"Prime Minister ji, the underprivileged need political and economic power, not empty words," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Take these three steps: Make the 2011 census figures public, tell how many OBCs are there in the country and remove the 50 percent cap on reservations. Give reservation to Dalits, tribals according to their population," he said.
Kharge stressed that conducting the census is the responsibility of the Union Government "I am writing to you to once again place on record the demand of the Indian National Congress for an up-to-date Caste Census. My colleagues and I have raised this demand earlier in both Houses of Parliament on a number of occasions as have leaders of many other opposition parties," the Congress chief said in his letter dated April 16.
Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar said if the government is really concerned about the OBCs, why is it "reluctant" to issue the data pertaining to caste and social and economic status.
He also echoed the demand to carry out a caste and social-economic census in the country to ascertain the number of people and their economic and social status that will help formulate its policies.
"The prime minister claims he belongs to the other backward classes. If the government really loves the OBCs, then it becomes important to ask some questions to the government. Why is the Government of India so reluctant to issue the data pertaining to caste and social and economic status of people in the country," he asked.
Kumar alleged that ever since the new government has come to power, no data has been issued and the 2021 census has also not been done.
Noting that in digital India, data is very important and whosoever will have it will be the leading power, he said the country should know how many people are there, their caste and economic status.
"We urge the government to start the process of census which has not taken place in 2021," he said, adding that one can formulate its policies once the data is there.
He said census has been done since the last 150 years.
"If the prime minister comes from the OBC category then he should ensure that all posts which are lying vacant will be filled but before that there "They will take votes based on caste and attack them on caste basis, but they will not come out with data on what is their numbers," the Congress leader alleged.
Kharge in his letter noted that for the first time, the UPA Government conducted a Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) during 2011-12 covering some 25 crore households.
"For a number of reasons, however, the caste data could not get published even though the Congress and other MPs demanded its release after your government came to power in May 2014," Kharge said.
"In the absence of an updated caste census, I am afraid a reliable database so very essential for meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes, particularly for OBCs, is incomplete. This Census is the responsibility of the Union Government," Kharge said.
"We demand that it be done immediately and that a comprehensive Caste Census be made its integral part," Kharge said.
Rahul Gandhi had on Sunday dared Prime Minister Modi to release the 2011 caste-based census data in the public domain and also demanded that the 50 per cent cap on reservation be removed.
The Congress leader while speaking at a poll rally in Karnataka claimed there are only seven per cent of secretaries are members from Other Backward Castes, Dalits and tribal communities in the central government.