Caste census, MSP to farmers first priorities if voted to power: Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi reiterated the Congress's committment to an inclusive development, pointed out how common man is suffereing due to Modi govt's flawed policies as Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered Madhya Pradesh

Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra reached Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, 2 March 2024
Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra reached Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, 2 March 2024


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the party's manifesto includes the promise to provide Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers legally if it came to power, and accused the BJP-led Union government of ignoring farmers' interests while working for big industrialists.

Speaking in Morena after his 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' entered Madhya Pradesh from Rajasthan, he also reiterated the demand for caste census and claimed that 73 per cent of the country's population has no presence in most sectors of the economy as well as in the top levels of bureaucracy.

He later addressed a gathering in Gwalior where he said conducting a caste-based census will be the first task the INDIA bloc government will undertake after coming to power at the Centre.

He also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the caste issue.

The BJP government at the Centre has waived loans of Rs 16 lakh crore of 10-15 industrialists but it is denying (legally guaranteed) MSP to farmers, Gandhi alleged in Morena.

Farmer organisations in Punjab and Haryana are currently agitating for legally guaranteed MSP for crops.

"We have written in the manifesto, as soon as a Congress government comes to power in Delhi, we will give legal MSP to the farmers of the country," Gandhi said.

Farmers are only asking for MSP and the right price for their produce and hard work, but when crops get ready for harvest, the Union government changes its import-export policy to bring down the prices of agricultural commodities, he alleged.

"This change forces farmers to sell their produce at a lower price and then the government again increases rates (by changing the policy)," Gandhi said.

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of spreading hatred, Gandhi said his party was trying to bring people together with love through this Yatra.

As few as 22 rich people in the country own wealth equal to that owned by half the population, and five per cent of the rich population has 60 per cent of the money, he said.

The level of unemployment is at the highest level in 40 years, Gandhi claimed, adding that unemployment in the country is double that of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Narendra Modi government's decision to implement Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation led to an increase in unemployment as these measures badly hit the economy, especially small and medium businesses which employ the youth, the Congress leader said.

Naming the Adani group, Gandhi alleged that in every sector, five to six big companies enjoy a monopoly.

He also claimed that 73 per cent of people including the Other Backward Classes which account for 50 per cent of the population, Dalits who are 15 per cent and the eight per cent tribals do not have any representation in the government and various other sectors, and a caste-based census will ensure justice to them.

Caste census, MSP to farmers first priorities if voted to power: Rahul Gandhi

None of the people from these communities are found among the owners of big companies, their senior managements, media firms, influential journalists and social media influencers, Gandhi said.

Of the 90 top Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers "who run the government", only three each are from OBC and Dalit communities, and "they are made to sit in the corner when the budget is decided," he claimed.

Names from these communities are, however, found in the lists of MNREGA workforce, labourers and sanitary workers, the Congress leader said.

The Congress called the ongoing march `Nyay" (justice) because of the prevailing situation marked by social injustice and economic injustice, Gandhi said.

The caste census is a revolutionary step and will ensure justice and equal participation for these communities in various sectors, the Congress leader said.

It will provide answers to two questions, namely, what is the population of the OBCs, Dalits, and tribals, and how wealth is distributed among them and what is their share in various institutions, Gandhi said.

Before the Modi government rolled out the Agniveer system of recruitment for the defence forces, there was only "one type of martyrs" and ex-servicemen got pensions, canteen facilities and respect in society, he said.

"Now, there are two types of martyrs....If one is recruited under the Agniveer scheme, the jawan will not get the status of martyr and not get the pension. Three out of four ex-servicemen will not get pension, canteen facilities and respect in their villages," Gandhi said.

He said the Agniveer scheme is implemented to provide money to big industrialists, and the government wanted the defence budget to not go towards the pension and training of the jawans but to the bank accounts of industrialists.

Arms and ammunition for the Army were earlier manufactured in government-owned ordnance factories and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited manufactured military aircraft, but now the HAL has been sidelined and "Adani will manufacture planes, arms and ammunition," the Congress leader claimed.

Addressing a gathering in Gwalior, Gandhi said, "If we form a government in the Centre, the first thing we will do is to conduct a caste-based census".

He alleged PM Modi used to call himself a member of Other Backward Community but "when I raised the demand for caste-based census, he is saying there is no caste".

Modiji is saying that there are two castes- rich and poor but OBCs, Dalits and tribals are deprived of their share in governance and management of companies, Gandhi said.

Earlier in the afternoon, MP Congress president Jitu Patwari welcomed Gandhi and senior party leader Ashok Gehlot on the border of Morena district. The Yatra resumed from Dholpur in Rajasthan in the morning after a five-day break.

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