Rahul: Will lift 50% quota limit if I.N.D.I.A. wins

The Asian Age With Agency Inputs

India, Politics

Gandhi strongly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of inconsistency

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting during the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra', in Ranchi, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (PTI Photo)

Patna: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pledged a nationwide Caste Census and the elimination of the 50 per cent cap on reservation if the I.N.D.I.A. bloc assumes power at the Centre after the Lok Sabha polls.

Gandhi strongly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of inconsistency. According to Gandhi, when the call for a Caste Census and the allocation of rights to OBCs, Dalits, and tribals emerged, the PM denied the existence of castes. However, during elections, he claims to be part of the OBC community.

He further accused the BJP of attempting to overthrow the JMM-Congress-RJD administration in Jharkhand due to the tribal background of the chief minister. During a rally at Shaheed Maidan as part of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from Manipur to Maharashtra, Gandhi commended all alliance MLAs, specifically acknowledging Champai Soren, for thwarting what he termed as a conspiracy by the BJP-RSS and safeguarding the government that serves the interests of the economically disadvantaged.

Gandhi claimed that Dalits, tribals, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) were made bonded labourers and their participation was lacking in big companies, hospitals, schools, colleges and courts.

“This is the biggest question before India. Our first step would be to get a Caste Census in the country,” the former Congress chief said.

Noting that more than 50 per cent reservation cannot be given under existing provisions, Gandhi promised that an Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A.) government would “throw out” the 50 per cent cap on reservation.

“There will be no reduction in the reservation of Dalits and Adivasis. I am giving you a guarantee that the backward sections of society will get their rights. This is the biggest issue - social and economic injustice,” Gandhi said.

He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to say that he is an OBC but when the demand for a Caste Census was made, he stated that there are only two castes — the rich and the poor.

“When the time came to give rights to OBCs, Dalits, tribals, Modi ji says there are no castes, and when it is time to get votes, he says he is an OBC,” Gandhi claimed.

Slamming the BJP soon after the Champai Soren-led government won the trust vote in the Jharkhand assembly, Gandhi alleged that the BJP tried to remove the government as it cannot accept a tribal CM.

“The Congress and the JMM stood against them together and the government was saved. They do this in all Opposition-ruled states through probe agencies and money power.

“They are attacking democracy and the Constitution and want to suppress the voice of the people. The I.N.D.I.A. coalition will not let the voice of democracy be suppressed,” the Congress leader said.

Gandhi also came down heavily on the Modi government over what he said was an attempt to privatise Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) in order to benefit its “crony capitalist friends”.

“Narendra Modi and his government are slowly killing the PSUs... The central government wants the Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HEC Limited) to not function, and in the coming days, they will replace the name HEC with an Adani nameplate.

“They want to privatise it... Wherever I go, I see people of PSUs standing with posters in their hands. Be it BHEL, HAL, or HEC, all are being slowly handed over to Adani,” Gandhi alleged.

He asserted that the Congress will not allow such privatisation.

“I say to the people of the BJP do whatever you want to do, we will not let Adani's name be stuck over HEC. We will not allow Adani to be given this free gift...When our government comes you will be given all support and made competitive,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi alleged that the Centre was throttling all the PSUs in order to benefit Adani. This privatisation is an attempt to “steal” from Dalits, OBCs, tribals, minorities and poor general caste, he said.

Raising the pitch over the caste census issue, Gandhi asked the crowd at the rally if anyone knew the number of Dalits, tribals and OBCs.

“No one can give a number... In the country there are at least 50 per cent OBCs,” he said.

Gandhi also said that Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy had told him that his government had fulfilled the promise of a caste survey made to the people of that state.

In a few months, Dalits, OBCs, tribals, minorities and general caste poor will get to know their numbers, Gandhi said.

He said that out of the 90 secretaries running the government, only three are from the OBC category.

Gandhi claimed that there was “massive” unemployment in the country and small and medium enterprises had been “destroyed” due to demonetisation.

“PM Modi lied and said 'I am fighting against black money' and then carried out demonetisation, then implemented GST. The Indian youth cannot get jobs in such a scenario,” the Congress leader said.

Gandhi alleged that the BJP-RSS make people of different religions and languages fight and “then take their money and hand it to billionaire Gautam Adani”.