In a significant declaration, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has staunchly opposed the idea of a caste-based census, citing concerns about its potential to exacerbate existing societal divisions. During the annual visit of ruling party legislators to the RSS facility at Reshimbagh, this position was explicitly conveyed to BJP and Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) members.
The RSS, symbolized by memorials of its founding figures Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar at Reshimbagh in east Nagpur, emphasized its belief that delving into caste identities could further fragment Indian society. This stance directly contradicts Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s push for a caste-based census to address the demands of various communities seeking backward status for access to reservations in education and jobs.
Notably, the Bihar government has already initiated such a census, aligning with Rahul Gandhi’s advocacy, primarily aiming for electoral support from specific communities. However, the RSS’s viewpoint clashes with key figures like Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who have expressed openness to a caste-based census if deemed necessary.
Shridhar Ghadge, Vidarbha Pranth Pramukh of the RSS, asserted that the organization has historically championed social equality but cautioned against measures that deepen caste-based divides. Despite acknowledging the existence of caste discrimination, Ghadge highlighted the potential harm a caste census might inflict on societal unity.
The annual visit to Reshimbagh by BJP legislators and a faction of the Shiv Sena has been a customary affair since the party’s involvement in the ruling coalition. However, the absence of certain factions, notably the Ajit Pawar faction within the coalition, signals a divergence in ideologies. This absence underscores the commitment of these factions to maintain a secular stance.
An RSS functionary clarified that the visit by BJP and allied legislators was voluntary, indicating that it was not obligatory. Despite the absence of key political figures like Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, the briefing by RSS functionaries continued, focusing on issues such as social equality, family values, indigenous principles, and environmental conservation.