Rahul Gandhi renews caste survey promise, Kharge talks NYAY scheme if I.N.D.I.A. win

"Support the INDIA alliance to save democracy and the country," says party president Kharge, "because if we unite, the BJP will be nowhere"

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi addresses the rally in Nagpur to mark the party's 139th Foundation Day on 28 December 2023 (photo: Sunny Shende)
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi addresses the rally in Nagpur to mark the party's 139th Foundation Day on 28 December 2023 (photo: Sunny Shende)


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said yesterday, 28 December, that the OBCs, Dalits and tribals do not have enough representation in many sectors in the country, and reiterated that a caste census will be conducted when the Opposition INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) bloc comes to power.

Meanwhile, Indian National Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge promised implementation of a new 'NYAY' scheme for the poor.

The two leaders were speaking at the Congress's 139th Foundation Day rally—titled 'Hain Taiyaar Hum (We Are Ready)'—in Nagpur, the city which also houses the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Grand Old Party also sounded the bugle for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections at this time.

Nagpur has two ideologies, Kharge told attendees: one from Dr B.R. Ambedkar, which is progressive, and the other of the RSS, which is "destroying the nation". Notably, the city is home to Deekshabhoomi, commemorating the spot where Ambedkar abandoned Hinduism in disgust with its casteism and converted to Buddhism along with his followers.

Speaking of the Congress' plans in the new year ahead, which is also a general election year, Rahul Gandhi said, "The foundation of the battle for political power is ideology, and the Congress's objective is to hand over power to the common man."

Orders come from the top in the BJP, while in the Congress, even an ordinary worker can question the leadership, Gandhi added. "The country's reins should be in the hands of the common man," he reiterated.

He also reiterated that after coming to power at the Centre, the INDIA bloc government would conduct a caste survey. OBCs, Dalits and tribals do not have representation in commensurate measure with their population in various sectors, Gandhi claimed.

"Earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi would describe himself as an OBC. But after my demand (of caste census), he says there is only one caste, the poor. If there is only one caste, why do you say you are an OBC?" the Congress leader asked.

The Congress leader also spoke of employment opportunities—or the lack thereof— in recent years. "How many youth have been given employment in the last 10 years by the Modi government? Unemployment is at all-time high now," the Congress leader noted.

Instead, the BJP government has pushed a large number of people back into poverty, he claimed, so that unemployment is at an all-time high.

The Green Revolution, White Revolution and Information Technology revolution were ushered in by farmers, women and the youth, respectively, while the Congress governments laid down the vision for these revolutions, Gandhi said.

He also accused the BJP of capturing all democratic institutions.

Speaking in Marathi, Congress chief Kharge in his turn pointed out that Nagpur is the land of revolutionaries, where Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi worked extensively.

"If the BJP and RSS came to power again, democracy will be finished," the veteran leader said. "There are two ideologies in Nagpur, one is the progressive one which belongs to Ambedkar, and other is that of the RSS which is destroying the country,"

Prime Minister Modi was against social justice and equality, Kharge alleged, and thus sided with the latter strain of thinking.

"Democracy is under threat. Inflation has skyrocketed, unemployment is also high. There are 30 lakh vacancies which are not being filled up because Backward Classes would have to be accomodated," he said.

The poor are becoming more poor while the rich are becoming richer under the Modi government, Kharge alleged. The BJP government did not fulfil its promises of creating two crore jobs every year and giving Rs 15 lakh to each citizen, he said.

"If the INDIA alliance is voted to power, the 'NYAY' scheme will be implemented for the empowerment of the poor including women," he declared, referring to the scheme promised by the Congress before the 2019 elections, where the poor households were to get Rs 6,000 per month.

PM Modi does not visit Manipur where atrocities took place on women but he goes to Surat to inaugurate a diamond bourse building, the Congress president said.

He also alleged that the prime minister does not respect Parliament, as he does not attend its proceedings. "To protect one BJP MP who signed the documents to allow the intruders who jumped into the Lok Sabha well, 146 MPs (of the Opposition) have been suspended," Kharge said, referring to the security breach at Parliament earlier this month.

The BJP was trying to divide the INDIA bloc, he said, "because if we unite, the BJP will be nowhere".

"Support the INDIA alliance to save democracy and the country. Now, leaving aside all important issues facing the country, the BJP will highlight God," Kharge said, referring to the Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya scheduled for next month.

The victories for the Congress in the Karnataka and Telangana assembly elections were morale boosters, and there was no need to get disheartened by the recent defeats in other states, he concluded.

Edited PTI inputs

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