Union minister and Republican Party of India (A) chief Ramdas Athawale said on Sunday that his party supported conducting a caste census across the country, PTI reported.

“My party demands that some way should be found because once the caste-based census is done, we will know the percentage of every caste in the population," Athawale, the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, said.

The Republican Party of India (A) is a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, several Opposition parties, including the Congress, had demanded that a nationwide caste census be carried out.

Proponents of such a census argue that it will lead to identifying the true population of the country’s Other Backward Classes and other castes, helping pave the way for policies such as expanded quotas.

Athawale, questioning the Congress’ stance on the matter on Sunday, asked: “I want to ask [Congress leader Rahul] Gandhi that when the Congress was in power at the Centre, why was the caste census not conducted?”

The Congress had promised a nationwide caste census in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha election.

The Bihar government had conducted the caste survey in two phases last year. The findings of its survey revealed that the Other Backward Classes and the Extremely Backward Classes constitute over 63% of the state’s population.

In September 2022, the Union government had told the Supreme Court that a country-wide caste census would be unfeasible, administratively difficult and cumbersome.

India had last conducted an exercise to count the population of all caste groups in 1931. In independent India, census reports have published data noting the population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but not other caste groups.