Lok Sabha Election

Modi hits back on 'fake OBC' jibes, says he is 'most backward'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally. File photo   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

Hitting back at BSP chief Mayawati for dubbing him a “fake OBC,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday aggressively pitched his backward caste identity in Uttar Pradesh. He declared he was not just an OBC, but was “born” into the “most-backward caste.” 

“You are distributing pramaan patr (certificates) of caste, a game I have never played. But I want to tell you, my caste is most backward caste,” Mr. Modi said in Kannauj. 

Addressing a public meeting in the Yadav-clan bastion, Mr. Modi countered the jibes by Ms. Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav over his backward identity, by saying that being born into a backward caste may be a “political game” for them, but for him it was the “good fortune of serving Ma Bharti.”

Mr. Modi also said that when the Opposition realises they are losing the elections after the first few phases, they resort to abusing him. If some ask, “Modi kis jaat ka hai (which caste does Modi belong to),” others say he belongs to the “neech jaat” while some say he is “neech,” the PM said, cleverly playing upon the pun of the word neech, which though meaning lowly in Hindi is often used as a slur against lower castes.  The SP and BSP top leadership have questioned Mr. Modi's OBC credentials in their rallies and even dubbed him a “fake OBC” and kagzi pichda.

Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Akhilesh Yadav have both stressed that Mr. Modi was not an OBC by birth but by certificate. Addressing a joint rally in Jalaun on Friday, Ms. Mayawati cautioned OBC and Dalit voters against Mr. Modi's backward caste pitch, saying that while he was Chief Minister of Gujarat he had used authority to include his “forward caste” into the OBC category to eat up their share. 

On the other hand, Ms. Mayawati hailed SP patron, and opponent-turned-ally, Mulayam Singh as the true leader of the Backward community. “He (Mulayam) Singh is an inbred OBC, not a fake one like Modi who [just] made a certificate,” she said.

In response to the attack, Mr. Modi said he never supported caste-based politics and that the country only got to know of his caste when his opponents started abusing him. “I am grateful to Behenji, Akhileshji, Congress and the Mahamilavati people that they are openly discussing my pichdepan (backward identity).” The PM also justified referring to his caste identity.   “I was not born a pichda, but in an ati-pichda (caste). You are making me say it, so I am saying it. I have never been an advocate of backward-forward politics. When my country is backward, then what is forward. I want to make the whole country forward,” he said. 

The Prime Minister pressed the issue with the metaphor of salt, which he compared to the minuscule numbers of his caste people. Though it is less in quantity, salt enhances the taste of food and in its absence even the best food is not appetizing, he said. “Modi is doing the job of salt. So that the food of every poor person in the country is made tasty,” he said referring to himself in the third person.


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Printable version | Nov 22, 2021 2:14:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/modi-hits-back-on-fake-obc-jibes-says-he-is-most-backward/article26964347.ece

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