Don't show haste over caste census report, LoP Ashoka tells Karnataka CM

Don't show haste over caste census report, LoP Ashoka tells Karnataka CM

Bengaluru, Nov 23 (PTI) Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly R Ashoka on Thursday urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah not to rush the release of Socio-Economic and Education Survey report, popularly known as the 'caste census', and take all communities and organisations into confidence before going ahead, amid opposition from various quarters to it.

The senior BJP leader also demanded an inquiry and action after the survey's original 'worksheet' copy allegedly went missing.

The then Siddaramaiah-led Congress government (2013-2018) in 2015 had commissioned the social-economic and educational survey, at an estimated cost of Rs 170 crore in the state, the findings of which have not been made public yet.

The state Backward Classes Commission under its then chairperson H Kantharaju was tasked with preparing a caste census report. The survey work was completed in 2018, towards the end of Siddaramaiah’s first tenure as Chief Minister, but was not accepted or made public.

'Kantharaju led commission's survey has led to a lot of confusion...it is a 10 year old report, population has changed since then, and people have complained that their houses were not visited during the survey,' Ashoka said.

Speaking to reporters here, he pointed out that the Member-secretary of the State Commission for Backward Classes had not signed the survey report, and also its original 'worksheet' copy was missing.

'The report that was prepared by spending over Rs 168 crore, if its original worksheet is missing, why has the government not yet conducted any inquiry? The government has not even commented on the missing document, the government seems to be trying to hide something and save someone. I condemn it,' he said, demanding an immediate inquiry into it.

With pressure mounting on his government, from a certain section, to make public the state's survey, following the Bihar government releasing findings of its caste survey recently, Siddaramaiah has said that a decision will be taken once he receives the report from the current Backward Classes.

Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, under its current Chairman, K Jayaprakash Hegde is expected to submit the report to the government in the next couple of months.

With strong disapproval from the two politically influential communities, the survey report may turn out to be a political hot potato for the government as it may set the stage for a confrontation. Dalits and OBCs among others are demanding for it to be made public.

Noting that the BJP is not opposed to the survey per say, Ashoka said, it has to be done with a proper yardstick and scientifically.

'Already seers of several prominent maths -- Vokkaligas, Lingayats and other communities -- also various organisations have said that survey was not properly done, but the CM seems to be in a hurry... it has created a suspicion that whether they have tried to incorporate something in the survey report and have meddled in drafting of the report,' he said.

'If there is nothing to hide, call a meeting of seers from all communities and organisations and hold talks with them', he said, adding that the BJP government did not take any action regarding the survey report, while in power, as it was known that it was unscientific.

Questioning the CM on whether he had discussed -- regarding actions the government should take regarding the survey report in the cabinet --, Ashoka pointed out that Siddaramaiah's own Ministers, including the Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar have signed against accepting it.

'There is opposition within the cabinet, let him (CM) take his cabinet into confidence first. Let him talk to all communities. Instead, if you hasten this, it leads to suspicion that you have meddled in the drafting of the report,' he said and urged Siddaramaiah not to spread hate between communities. PTI KSU RS KSU ROH

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