The Nationalist Congress Party is not in favour of a caste-based census, but has not made it an issue as it finds Big Brother Congress suddenly more accommodating towards the Yadav triumvirate — Sharad, Mulayam and Lalu — than its partners in the UPA. At the Cabinet meeting last week, senior NCP leader and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel took the middle path, pointing out that the matter has reached such a point that the government would be criticised either way. The NCP camp is dismayed at the haste with which the Congress brought the onus on the government by promising to bring the issue in the Cabinet.
The Cabinet meeting witnessed some spirited opposition with Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports M S Gill leading from the front and terming it as a retrogressive step. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal wanted the government to take a “rationalist” approach.
The biggest surprise, however, was Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh’s support for a caste census. He said that by promising to bring the issue in the Cabinet, the government had already committed itself to the cause