Caste census an X-ray to find out problems of OBCs: Rahul Gandhi

He makes it clear that Congress is going to centre its poll campaign around caste-based survey and OBC rights plank 

Updated - October 11, 2023 07:46 am IST

Published - October 10, 2023 08:15 pm IST - Bhopal

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses Janakrosh Sabha at Beohari in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh on October 10, 2023.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses Janakrosh Sabha at Beohari in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh on October 10, 2023. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Caste-based census is like an X-ray that will detect the problems of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Dalits and tribals of the country and how much representation they should get, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday at a public rally in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

Just a day after the announcement of election dates by the Election Commission, Mr. Gandhi, campaigning in the BJP stronghold Vindhya region, made it clear that the Congress is going to centre its poll campaign around the caste-based survey and OBC rights plank. 

Addressing the gathering at Beohari in Shahdol district, Mr. Gandhi said, “OBCs, Dalits and Adivasis are getting injured. Let’s find out the injury by conducting the X-ray. We want to find out how many OBCs are there and how much representation they should get.” 

The Congress leader alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to “hide this truth”. “He talks about Pakistan, Afghanistan and what not. But he can’t talk about caste census because the remote control is with [Gautam] Adani,” the Congress MP charged.

Mr. Gandhi, on his second visit to Madhya Pradesh in the poll season, claimed that the Adivasi and OBC youth were unemployed because there were not enough top government officials from the community to make decisions for them.

“There are about 90 officers that run the Government of India in New Delhi who make decisions for the country. The BJP’s MPs don’t run the government. But there are only five OBCs among these 90 officers,” he said.

Adivasi representation

Claiming that the Adivasi representation was even less, Mr. Gandhi said, “If the government spends ₹100, OBC officers take decisions of ₹5 but officers from the Adivasi community only take decisions for barely 10 paisa.”

“You are unemployed because your people are not making decisions in the government,” the Congress leader told the youth in the crowd.

Reiterating his party’s promise, Mr. Gandhi said the Congress’s first job in the State would be to conduct a caste-based survey if it comes to power. “We will create so much pressure on the Central government that they will have to get a caste census conducted,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi also remembered July’s Sidhu urination incident in which a local BJP leader was allegedly caught on camera while peeing on a tribal labourer. 

“[BJP veteran L.K.] Advani ji had written in his book that Madhya Pradesh was the real laboratory of the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] and the BJP,” the Congress leader said, alleging, “In the BJP’s laboratory in Madhya Pradesh, dead people are treated and their money is stolen, three farmers kill themselves every day, and BJP leaders urinate on tribals.”

“This is what Advani ji meant,” Mr. Gandhi added.

Allegations of corruption

The Congress leader also launched a scathing attack at the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh over allegations of corruption in various projects such as the Mahakal Mahalok temple corridor project, Vyapam scam, MBBS seat selling scam among others.

“In Madhya Pradesh, theft is done from Lord Shiv in Mahakali corridor. This does not happen in any other State,” he said, in an attempt to dent the BJP’s Hindutva vote bank. 

Mr. Gandhi also said that Mr. Modi had to start using the term ‘Adivasi’ after he called him out. 

“He used to earlier say the term ‘Vanvasi’ but I called him out and now he does not use this word,” Mr. Gandhi said, claiming that by calling the tribals ‘Vanvasi’, the BJP wants to keep them in forests and believes that they do not have any right over the land.

Accusing the BJP of cancelling about 3.5 lakh pattas given to tribals and taking away their land, he said, “It was the Congress which had brought PESA [Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996] and the Forest Rights Act and gave the power to Gram Sabhas to decide on giving the land.”

“The BJP took that power away. But I guarantee you that we will give that power back to you along with what belongs to you,” the Congress leader said.

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