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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Rahul stands firm on 'OBC agenda', slams BJP over attempts to divert focus from caste census

The Congress doesn’t share the perception that the BJP had addressed the OBC question by making Mohan Yadav the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Shivraj Singh Chauhan too is an OBC and a far more powerful and entrenched leader than the inexperienced Yadav

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 13.12.23, 05:48 AM
Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi. File picture

Unfazed by the shocking results in the Hindi heartland, Rahul Gandhi has stuck to his “OBC agenda”, arguing that the Narendra Modi government was hell-bent on diverting the people’s attention from “the basic issue of caste census”.

Clubbing even the ceaseless attacks on Jawaharlal Nehru with other diversionary tactics that the BJP deploys, Rahul said: “24 hours, they try to divert attention. Nehru or something else, they don’t want to discuss this issue of caste census.”

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Asked about the people of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh rejecting his agenda, he appeared to be dismissive, probably because the results were not seen as a referendum on the question of social justice.

He said: “The Prime Minister is himself an OBC. But that’s not the question. The issue is of bhagidari (representation). What’s the participation of OBCs, Dalits and tribal people in the institutional structures? Who is cornering the wealth? We will ensure that the poor and deprived sections of society get their due.”

That the Congress leader is obsessed with this issue and plans to persist with this even in the parliamentary election is obvious because the question that was asked wasn’t even remotely related to it. He was asked about home minister Amit Shah’s criticism of Nehru in Parliament on Monday in the context of Kashmir. He could have handled the question without referring to the caste census.

But Rahul probably wanted to send out a clear message that he had not abandoned the social justice theme after electoral setbacks. He said: “Nehru gave his life to the nation. He spent so many years in jail. Amit Shah doesn’t know history. I don’t even expect him to know history; he is only trying to rewrite history.” Then he swiftly moved to the question of representation, accusing the BJP of running away from the core concern.

The Congress doesn’t share the perception that the BJP had addressed the OBC question by making Mohan Yadav the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Shivraj Singh Chauhan too is an OBC and a far more powerful and entrenched leader than the inexperienced Yadav. The Congress believes Modi-Shah have taken a huge risk by ignoring established leaders just before the parliamentary elections and created a huge opening for a Congress comeback.

While the Congress expects the exit of Chauhan and Vasundhara Raje Scindia to hurt the BJP’s prospects, it hopes the situation is no better even in Chhattisgarh. While Rajasthan chief minister Bhajanlal Sharma is a greenhorn who could find it difficult to match seasoned players like Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, even Vishnu Deo Sai will find it difficult to face the Congress challenge in Chhattisgarh.

The Congress even took the unusual step of attacking the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, with party communications chief Jairam Ramesh pointing to an alleged land scam involving Yadav and his family, apart from talking about his intemperate language shown in some videos.

Ramesh tweeted: “After eight days of election result, they chose a person as Chief Minister who faces serious allegations of irregularities in the context of change in Ujjain master plan. The plots owned by him was freed from the 872 acre reserved for ‘Sinhasth’ after changing the land use. Many old videos show him abusing, threatening and making objectionable statements. Is this the Modi’s guarantee for Madhya Pradesh?”

In one video that went viral after his selection, Yadav appears to talks about Sita in derogatory terms, describing her death as suicide and her separation with Lord Ram as divorce.

A video of the Chhattisgarh chief minister is also circulating on social media in which he is purportedly seen threatening to behead and bury somebody.

Ramesh also raked up the Adani issue to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Referring to fresh revelations by Bloomberg, Ramesh tweeted: “Dear Narendra Modi, the nation wants you to explain the biggest money heist since 1947. Your close friend Adani siphons out Rs 17,500 crore from India by inflating the prices of imported coal and power equipment. He brings another Rs 20,000 crore back into India via offshore shell companies and inflates his stick prices under Sebi’s eyes.”

Ramesh added: “He borrows billions from banks at his service using inflated stocks as collateral. He invests the money in projects kindly gifted to him using ED, CBI and income tax. He zooms from literally nowhere to the second richest man in the world. Who pays for this unprecedented growth? Janata, via inflated electricity bills! We know how desperate you are to divert attention from the latest twist involving Chang Chung-Ling and the Adani group. It won’t work.”

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