Narendra Modi belongs to an upper caste but “manipulated” the OBC status for political gains, the Congress alleged on Thursday.

Congress spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil, a known detractor of the Gujarat Chief Minister, released a State government circular claiming that a year after he became Chief Minister in September 2001, it declared ‘Modh Ghanchis’ to which Mr. Modi belongs, an Other Backward Class (OBC).

The Congress “disclosure” has come at a time when the final phase of the Lok Sabha polling is to be held, especially in constituencies that include Varanasi, from where Mr. Modi is contesting, and other seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which form the cradle of OBC politics.

“He belongs to the rich and prosperous Modh Ghanchis who were never given any kind of reservation nor included in OBCs before Modi became CM,” Mr. Gohil said. “In the way encounters were fake in Gujarat, Modi is also a fake OBC,” he alleged.

In remarks that could fuel fresh controversy, the Congress leader alleged that rather than being a tea vendor, Mr. Modi used to while away the time at a canteen, where his relative was the contractor, and whose “licence was reportedly cancelled over sale of charas.”