The government on Thursday afternoon hit back at Rahul Gandhi after the Congress Lok Sabha MP’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not born into an Other Backward Class community.
Mr Gandhi, in Odisha with his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, accused the Prime Minister of “misleading” people by identifying himself as an OBC member. He said Mr Modi “was born in(to) a family of the Ghanchi caste… which was included in the OBC list during the BJP government’s tenure in Gujarat”.
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.
READ | “PM Modi Not Born Into OBC Family, Misleading People”: Rahul Gandhi
“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.
READ | BJP In Backward Classes Outreach After Bihar Caste Report
The topic made headlines – and upped pressure on the BJP – last year after the Bihar government’s statewide caste survey, which confirmed that OBC and EBC, or Extremely Backward Classes, accounted for over 60 per cent of the state’s population, making them big vote banks.
READ | Bihar Caste Survey: 27% Backward Classes, 36% Extremely Backward
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.
READ | Caste Census, Removal Of 50% Cap On Quota: Rahul Gandhi’s Promise
Mr Gandhi on Monday attacked Mr Modi declaring, “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 lashed out.
READ | “Congress Follows Nehru Blindly, He Was Against Reservation”: PM Modi
“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.
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