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Rahul Gandhi Accuses Modi of Lying about his OBC Caste, Government Hits Back

Rahul Gandhi Accuses Modi of Lying about his OBC Caste, Government Hits Back

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Feb 8: The Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “lying to the world” that he was born into an Other Backward Class (OBC) family and said the caste he originally belonged to was declared OBC much later.

Addressing a rally at Belpahar in Odisha’s Jharsuguda district during the third day of his Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra in the state, Mr Gandhi said Mr Modi was not born in the OBC category as he belonged to the general caste and therefore he would never hold a caste census in the country.

“Narendra Modi was not born as OBC. You are being made a fool of. Modi was born in the Modh-Ghanchi caste in Gujarat. The BJP government made his community OBC in 2000,” Gandhi said.

The Congress leader said he would not even need a birth certificate to discern that Modi was not born an OBC as his behaviour proved it. “I don’t need any birth certificate to prove that the Prime Minister was not born as OBC. He never hugs any OBC… never holds hands of any OBC… he never shakes hands with the labourers or farmers. He only holds the hands of Adani ji,” Gandhi said.

The Modi government soon afterwards hit back at Mr Gandhi releasing a fact sheet to claim that at both the times when notifications were issued by the Gujarat government and the Central government incorporating Modh-Ghanchi community in the list of OBC category, Mr Modi was not in power or holding any executive post in any of the governments. It refuted Mr Gandhi’s claim that the Gujarat government declared his community as OBC when the BJP was in power in his home state.

In a brief note titled “facts regarding Rahul Gandhi’s statement on PM’s caste,” the government said the Modh-Ghanchi caste (and the sub-group to which Mr Modi belongs) “stands included in the Gujarat government’s list… of socially (and) educationally backward class and OBCs.” “…after a survey in Gujarat, Mandal Commission prepared a list of OBCs under Index 91(A), which included the Modh Ghanchi caste. The Indian government’s list (of) 105 OBC castes for Gujarat has also included Modh Ghanchi…” it said.

The government has also reminded Mr Gandhi the notification to include the sub-group in the list of OBCs was issued on July 25, 1994 – when Gujarat, Mr Modi’s home state, was ruled by the Congress. “The same sub-group was included (in) OBC (list) as per a Government of India notification dated April 4, 2000. When both notifications were released Shri Narendra Modi was not in power, and was not holding an executive office at the time,” the government has said.

Rahul Gandhi’s jab at the Prime Minister’s caste comes as the government and the opposition squabble over a national caste census – to which the ruling BJP, in the past, has been averse to.

The topic made headlines – and upped pressure on the BJP – last year after the Bihar government’s state-wide caste survey, which confirmed that OBC and Extremely Backward Classes (EBC) accounted for over 60 per cent of the state’s population, making them big vote banks. This week Mr Gandhi vowed to hold the nationwide caste census and remove the Supreme Court-ordered 50 per cent cap on reservations if the Congress wins the Lok Sabha election.

Attacking Mr Modi, Mr Gandhi said, “When time comes to give rights to OBCs, Dalits, tribals, Modiji says there are no castes. But when it is time to get votes, he says he is an OBC.”

The Prime Minister responded Wednesday during a speech in the Rajya Sabha, in which he said Congress stalwart and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not support reservations. “Nehruji used to say that if SC, ST or OBCs get reservation in jobs, then government work standards will fall. He even stopped recruitment. What Nehruji said has been pathhar ki lakeer (‘set in stone’) for the Congress since. Your mindset can be understood through such examples,” the PM had lashed out.

“The party has always been against the interest of SC and ST communities.” “But we have always prioritised them… first Dalits and now Adivasis. Who are the beneficiaries of our schemes? All our works are for the SC, ST, and OBC communities,” he said.

At a time when the Opposition INDIA alliance has decided to push the caste census demand to counter the BJP’s Hindutva narrative, Gandhi said only the Congress would hold a caste census. “He [PM Modi] will not hold a caste census. In his whole life, he will not hold a caste census. Because your Prime Minister is lying to the world. He is not OBC, he is from the general caste and will never allow a caste census. Only Congress will hold a caste census,” he said.

“When I spoke about social justice and caste census, Modi, in his speech said, there were only two castes in the country — one is rich and another is poor. If there are only two castes…which caste do you belong to? You are not poor since you wear new suits 24/7. If there are only two castes, how can you claim yourself as OBC?” Gandhi asked.

Stating that there are 8 per cent tribals, 15 per cent Dalits and 50-55 per cent OBCs in the country, Gandhi said the media questions him for raising his voice against casteism. “Show me a worker from the Scheduled Caste heading any of the top 200 biggest companies. Forget about companies, can anyone show me any OBC or Dalit among the 90 people who run the country? When 73 per cent of the population does not have proper representation anywhere, how can the country unite?” said Gandhi, adding there was huge social injustice in the country.

“When it comes to economic justice, your PM is destroying small businesses. He has implemented GST and demonetisation to help Adaniji. In the country including Odisha, youths cannot get employment. Big industrialists are selling products made in China helping youths of China make money. People in India are only spending,” said the Congress leader.

He remarked, “People are only fighting with inflation. People are hurt by rise in petrol and food prices. It does not affect Adaniji and Modiji. Does Mr Modi buy expensive clothes himself? The salary of PM is ₹1.60 lakh whereas his dresses cost ₹2 lakh to ₹3 lakhs. He spends ₹7 to ₹8 lakh daily on his attire. Where do they come from? PM always misleads people.”

“In Odisha, BJP and BJD are looting money of farmers. There is only difference of letters P and D in the name. They operate in partnership. They are busy stealing, grabbing of tribal land. They survey tribal land by drone. The information about the land reaches Adaniji and Ambaniji. The industrialists would come and take away the land,” Congress leader said.

Even though the Yatra failed to draw a crowd at Jharsuguda – once a Congress bastion – forcing Gandhi to revise his schedule, it drew an impressive crowd at Belpahar. Mr Gandhi also targeted Mr Modi for finishing small businesses and helping billionaires, which he referred to as “arthik anyay (financial injustice).”

On a break from Thursday afternoon, the Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra will resume on February 11 from Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. Rahul Gandhi will be in Chhattisgarh for the first time after the Congress lost the Assembly elections to the BJP in December last year.

“The Yatra will re-enter Jharkhand on the morning of the 14th, and thereafter re-enter Bihar on the morning of the 15th. On the afternoon of February 16th, the Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra will enter Uttar Pradesh,” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X.

 

 

 

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