Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Rajesh Lilothia and political theorist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd during the 'Samajik Nyay Sammelan' at Jawahar Bhavan, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Rajesh Lilothia and political theorist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd during the 'Samajik Nyay Sammelan' at Jawahar Bhavan, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo | Shekhar yadav, EPS

No force can stop caste census, those calling themselves 'desh bhakt' are scared of it: Rahul slams BJP

Online Desk, Agencies

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that those who call themselves "desh bhakt" are scared of the 'X-ray' of caste census but no force can stop it and his life mission is to secure justice for 90 percent of the population, as he hit back at the BJP amid the row on the issue of wealth redistribution.

Addressing the 'Samajik Nyay Sammelan' here, Gandhi said he was targeted by the BJP and the prime minister for just talking about finding out how much injustice had been done to 90 percent of the population.

"I am not interested in caste but in 'nyay' (justice). I am saying that gross injustice is being done to 90 per cent of the population. I have not even said till date that we will take any action on that.

"I just said let us find out how much injustice is being done. There should be no objection to that. If you get injured and I say that get an X-ray done, no one should object to that," the Congress leader said.

The former Congress asserted that it is his life mission to ensure justice for the 90 per cent of the population against whom injustice has been done.

"As soon as our government is formed, the first thing that would be done is a caste census," Gandhi said.

From the Rs 16 lakh crore transferred by Modi to select business people, the Congress is going to return a small amount to 90 per cent of the population, he said.

"We have calculated...what we felt is justice and that help should be given, we put it down in the manifesto," he said of the party's guarantees mentioned in the manifesto.

"Understand this is not a political issue for me. This is my life mission," he said, adding, "I force can stop caste census. The more it is stopped, the more it will return with bigger force."

There is a difference between life mission and politics as one can compromise in politics but not in life mission, he said.

He also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has panicked after seeing the Congress' "revolutionary manifesto" which talks about the 'X-ray' and the income inequality created by Modi.

The BJP has alleged that the Congress will take people's wealth and redistribute it if it comes to power.

On Wednesday, PM Modi and his party cited Congress leader Sam Pitroda's remarks on inheritance tax to claim that the Congress wants to legally rob people of their assets and lifelong savings they want to bequeath to their children. The Congress has maintained that its manifesto speaks of the social-economic caste census and not about the "redistribution" of wealth.

Taking a swipe at the media for dubbing him a "non-serious" politician in the past, Gandhi cited his involvement with the MGNREGA scheme, the Land Acquisition Bill, the Bhatta Parsaul movement, and the Niyamgiri Hills matter, and said for the media all this was "non-serious while talking about Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Virat Kohli was serious."

"Anybody who talks of the 90 percent of the population is dubbed non-serious," Gandhi said at the event organised by the Samruddha Bharat Foundation.

He said that he looked into the stakeholders in the media industry and found that there was not a single OBC, Dalit or tribal anchor.

"So the loudspeaker is not with you. There is no representation in the media. Whose money goes into the media? Governments give money, whose money is it? It comes in GST. This is the money of the 90 percent people," he said addressing the gathering largely comprising those belonging to Dalits, tribals and backward organisations.

He said the same was the case with the judiciary, with out of 650 high court judges, only 100 belong to the 90 percent of the population.

Gandhi said in the top 200 firms of the country also, there was no Dalit, tribal or OBC.

"Narendra Modi has given Rs 16 lakh crore to 25 people from these firms. If you waive farmers' loans 25 times, that amount of money has been given by the prime minister to 25 people," he alleged.

"But look at the national media and Narendra Modi. As soon as I used the word X-ray and said, let us test how much injustice is there, they stood up and started saying that attempts were being made to divide the country, break it. An X-ray will only tell about participation and all patriots would like this," he said.

"What does a deshbhakt want? A deshbhakt wants justice in the country. A deshbhakt wants India to move forward and become a superpower. So if you want to become a superpower and move ahead of China, one has to use the strength of 90 per cent of the population. Those who call themselves 'deshbhakt' are scared of X-Ray," he said.

"For 10 years, Modi said he is an OBC but as soon as I talked about caste census, he said, 'there are no castes'. If there are no castes, how are you an OBC?" Rahul quipped.

"Then you should have said I have no caste. He then says there are two castes: rich and poor... if you say so, I say take out the list of poor and you will get Dalit, adivasis, and backwards," the congress leader added.

He alleged that the BJP aims to divert the attention of Dalits, OBCs, and tribals.

"The problem they have is that you can only divert attention for a limited period and that time has come when OBC are asking - 'what is happening'. Ram Mandir was constructed and we did not see one of our (Dalits and tribals) person. Parliament building was inaugurated, but we did not see our person," Gandhi said.

Referring to President Droupadi Murmu, he said it is the head of state's job to inaugurate Parliament but she was excluded from the ceremony.

Asserting that a caste census will give clarity, Gandhi said it is not just a caste survey but an economic and institutional survey would also be attached to it.

The country will get to know how many Dalits, adivasis and poor general castes are there and their participation in various sectors, he added.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI)