Rahul Gandhi on Friday said a harmonious society was not possible without social justice, upping the ante on his championing of a caste census.
“There is a fundamental difference between me and the BJP. They spread hatred. They instigate one community, one caste against another. I believe in love,” he told an election rally in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh.
“I keep talking about opening a mohabbat ki dukan (shop of love) in a nafrat ka bazaar (market of hatred). But the foundation of love is justice. Justice is not possible without adequate representation.”
Rahul added: “If the Adivasis, backward castes, Dalits don’t have bhagidari (participation) in the system, in running the government, how will the mohabbat ki dukan open?
“If your population is 50 per cent and you have no participation in governance, how is love possible? Without justice for every section of society, love is not possible. Today’s system rests on injustice.”
Rahul, who had created a political storm in the country by revealing that only three of the 90 secretaries in the central government were from the Other Backward Classes, said: “There are 53 top officers who run the government in Madhya Pradesh. Only one of them is from the OBCs.”
One out of 53 comes to less than 2 per cent. Rahul said the abysmally low level of participation for a community that accounts for 50 per cent of the population was “shameful”.
He dwelt on the subject also at another rally, in Satna, saying: “The Prime Minister has stopped talking about caste since the day I started talking about a caste census. Modi’s job is to hide the truth. My job is to bring the truth out so that the right policies are made for the delivery of justice.
“Modi used to flaunt his OBC status earlier but now he says there is only one caste, and that is the poor. Does he mean there are no castes in India? Modi doesn’t want to do a caste census because his remote control is in the hands of Adani.”
Rahul declared that the Congress would order a caste census in Madhya Pradesh if it came to power, and the exercise would be repeated at the national level if the Opposition combine ousted the Modi government.
Rahul sought to link the issue of social justice to crony capitalism, arguing that the big industries that cornered all the profits barely employed OBCs, Dalits or tribal people.
Although Rahul has not been talking about religious minorities explicitly, fearing a negative twist by the BJP ahead of the elections, his stress on equality and representation obviously does not exclude them.
While there is no evidence yet that Rahul’s emphasis on OBCs has altered the electoral dynamics in the poll-bound states, random surveys suggest that the backward classes and Dalits appreciate his concern and support the demand for a caste census.
The outcome of this round of Assembly elections may become a credible indicator of the people’s opinion on this churning in the polity.