On Saturday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi made the case for a caste census in the country and asked why Prime Minister Modi was “afraid” of it. Gandhi also demanded the immediate implementation of reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
With the Rajya Sabha voting unanimously for it, a bill to reserve one-third of the seats in the legislative bodies for women had received the Parliamentary nod on Thursday. It will now require the approval of a majority of state assemblies.
The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam (128th Constitutional Amendment Bill) will be implemented after a delimitation exercise to redraw assembly and Parliamentary constituencies based on a census which the government has said will be commissioned in 2024.
Addressing a conference of Congress workers in poll-bound Rajasthan, Gandhi said that the BJP wants reservation for women to be implemented in “10 years, but we want it today and OBCs included in it”.
The Bill was passed on September 18 in a special session of Parliament.
Gandhi said even though the women’s reservation bill can be implemented in assemblies and the Parliament today itself, the central government wants to postpone it for 10 years on the pretext of a new census and delimitation.
While demanding a caste census, Gandhi said, “If we talk about giving participation to OBCs, then it cannot be done without a caste census. So, the prime minister talks about OBCs 24 hours a day. He talks about respecting OBCs. Then why is the prime minister afraid of a caste census?”.
He added, “The prime minister, please tell India in your next speech that the Congress had conducted a caste census. You have the figures. Show it to the people of India. You should conduct the next census on the basis of caste. Do not insult OBCs. Do not cheat OBCs.”
Gandhi, during the conference, claimed that are 90 secretaries that run the central government but only three of them are from OBCs; they take decisions only on 5% of the budget and are sidelined.
He had made the claim earlier on Wednesday in the Lok Sabha during the special session of Parliament.
Meanwhile, hitting out at the ruling party on the Adani issue, Gandhi said, “If you ask BJP workers about the relationship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and (billionaire Gautam) Adani, they will run away.”
Gandhi highlighted the achievements of the Ashok Gehlto government in Rajasthan and its schemes such as the Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme and the Mahatma Gandhi English Medium School programme. He called Congress workers ‘Babbar Shers’ (lions).
The meeting, which was attended by a spectrum of party workers, was also addressed by Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot expressed confidence that the Congress will again form a government in the state. He said that this is the first time that there is no anti-incumbency in the state as the current government had done incomparable work.
“It should be our resolve that our government should be repeated at any cost. We have kept our promises. Forget all differences… as victory in the Rajasthan assembly polls will give a message to the country,” he said.
The assembly polls in Rajasthan are due later in 2023, a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.