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Rahul Gandhi’s Hypocrisy on Caste Census Demand a Plot to Break PM Modi’s Hold on Voters: BJP Sources

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said last week that the party would embark on a caste census if it comes to power in Lok Sabha elections next year. (PTI/File)

The BJP has termed Rahul Gandhi’s caste census demand as hypocritical as the Congress had been against such a study for nearly 60 years till mulling one 2011, which also did not see the light of the day. The saffron party also views it as a ‘retrograde step’ for an aspirational country

Rahul Gandhi’s demand for a caste census and igniting the ‘84% question’ after a similar exercise in Bihar may portray an advocacy for the Backward Castes, but in reality is a ploy to break the ‘Hindu’ vote of the BJP.

The Congress leader’s demand originates from Hindi heartland allies like the RJD, JD(U), and also the Samajwadi Party, which have been demanding a caste census in a bid to break the Hindu voter consolidation and bring back the ‘Mandal politics’ era by wooing castes back into their fold.

The BJP’s politics has been the opposite of that, combining all castes under one umbrella of welfare-ism through various schemes, and the ‘Kamandal’ of Hindutva, as well as sheer nationalism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said “some people” want to divide the country in the name of caste.

Rahul Gandhi first raised the issue of caste census in his rally at Kolar during Karnataka elections earlier this year. Last week, he said caste census was the biggest issue before the country and the Congress would embark on the same as the first step if it comes to power.

The BJP, however, questions this as a ‘retrograde step’ when people are more worried about development in an aspirational country. It also terms Gandhi’s demand as hypocritical as the Congress had been against such a study for nearly 60 years till mulling one 2011, which also did not see the light of the day.

Sample this: Between 1951 and 2011, Congress prime ministers like Jawaharlal Nehru were against a caste census, while PMs like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had put the Mandal Commission report on the back-burner. A caste census was last done in India by the British.

In 2011, too, it was Congress allies like RJD who pushed the UPA to conduct a caste census, overturning the Congress stated policy position of decades of not doing one. In 2011, too, senior Congress leaders like P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, and Pawan Kumar Bansal objected to a caste census and a group of ministers (GoM) never reached a conclusion over it.

It took five years to complete the survey at a cost of over Rs 4,000 crore but it was riddled with technical flaws and never became public.

In Karnataka, till 2018, Siddaramaiah did not release a caste census report, despite commissioning one in 2015. He is yet to make it public in his current term. The Modi government instead has rolled out social welfare benefits for all, and by some estimates, the Backward groups, including OBCs, have benefitted the most from them.

Government sources make it a point to say that the so-called 50% unreserved pie in the country right now is also not a preserve of the upper castes but the Backward communities can also compete for the same besides the near 50% reserved pie for OBCs, SCs and STs.

A report by the Rohini Commission for sub-categorization of OBCs, meanwhile, is pending a decision of the government after it was submitted to the President earlier this year. If the government brings a bill on it in the Winter Session of Parliament, it could well be the government’s answer to the caste census bogey of the Opposition.



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Pune Police Seizes Escape Car Kia Of Accused's Father | Pune Porsche Crash | English News | News18

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‘He Could Have Called Me’: Naveen Patnaik Responds after PM Modi Promises Probe into ‘Conspiracy behind CM’s Failing Health’

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Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File pic/PTI)

The Odisha chief minister slammed the BJP for ‘spreading rumours’ about his health during the ongoing elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier said that if the BJP comes to power in the state, where assembly elections are being held concurrently with the Lok Sabha polls, it would form a special committee to investigate this issue and reveal the truth

Ahead of the last phase of polling in Odisha on June 1, the battle lines were clearly drawn between former allies Biju Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party with none other than the Prime Minister targeting the Odisha chief minister’s close aide and former bureaucrat VK Pandian, which forced Naveen Patnaik to break his silence on Narendra Modi.

“I understand that the Prime Minister at a public meeting in our state today has stated that I am in bad health and he wants to institute an enquiry to enquire into this matter,” the Odisha CM told reporters. “If he was so concerned about my health and he has stated publicly before that I am a good friend of his, all he had to do was pick up a telephone, ring me up, and ask me about my health.”

Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had indeed called Patnaik his “good friend” in February, ahead of alliance talks between the two parties.

The soft-spoken Odisha chief minister slammed the BJP for “spreading rumours” about his health. “I understand that there are a number of people of the Bharatiya Janata Party from Odisha and Delhi who have been spreading this rumour about my health for the last ten years. Let me assure the Prime Minister that I am in perfect health and I have been campaigning in our state for the last month. Instead of concerning himself about such rumours, he should concentrate on the revision of coal royalty for our state and also our demand for special category status which we have been making for years. This will benefit the people of Odisha with all that funding,” he said.

The opposition BJP, which fancies its chances in Odisha, has made “Odia asmita” an election issue and consistently targeted the Tamilian VK Pandian for the latter’s proximity to the chief minister, alleging that Patnaik is a “mere puppet” in his aide’s hands. And, despite a list of 40 star campaigners, it is Pandian who has led the BJD’s electioneering. Whether it is public meetings, roadshows, or big-ticket interviews, Pandian is everywhere. The BJP is trying to hammer the point that “Pandian, a non-Odia, is usurping power”.

Answering questions from reporters, Patnaik said that his health was alright, or else he would not have campaigned in this heat. “If he is to form a committee, I suggest he form a committee to look into the people who are spreading such false rumours about my health,” he said. “Think about it, this is election time and this has been said to get votes, what else?”

A video of Pandian removing Patnaik’s shaking hand from the public eye during a meeting triggered speculation from the BJP.

“All well-wishers of Naveen Babu are deeply worried. They are concerned seeing the sharp deterioration in Naveen Babu’s health in the past year. Those who have been close to Naveen Babu for years discuss his health when they meet me,” Prime Minister Modi said at a rally. “They say that Naveen Babu is no longer able to do anything on his own. Those who have been close to Naveen Babu for ages believe that there could be some conspiracy behind his deteriorating health.”

The PM, who has been campaigning vigorously in Odisha along with the BJP’s top brass, said the people of the state have the right to know the truth. “Is the same lobby not behind this, the same one who in the name of Naveen Babu and behind the screen is enjoying the perks of power in Odisha? The veil must be lifted from this mystery. There must be an investigation into this. After June 10, when the BJP would have registered a victory, its government in Odisha will form a special committee and will investigate the reasons why Naveen Babu’s health is suddenly continuing to deteriorate.”

In the no-holds-barred fight between the BJD and BJP, the latter has cleverly strategised not to target Naveen Patnaik so much, as he is old and still popular, but his close and trusted aide VK Pandian.

Explore in-depth coverage of Lok Sabha Election 2024 Voter Turnout, Upcoming Phase, Results Date, Exit Poll And Much More At News18 Website



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No Bar In Electoral Law On PM Planning Meditation Trip Ahead Of Last Phase of LS Polls: Sources

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PM Modi will meditate at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial starting on Thursday evening. (Image: News18)

The Congress on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Modi was trying to “circumvent” the silence period restrictions with his 48-hour meditation trip in violation of the Model Code of Conduct

There is no bar under electoral law on the prime minister to undertake a meditation trip during elections, sources in the know said on Wednesday, amid the Congress’s opposition to Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Kanyakumari’s ‘Dhyan Mandapam’ from May 30.

The Congress on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Modi was trying to “circumvent” the silence period restrictions with his 48-hour meditation trip in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. It urged the Election Commission to ensure that the his meditation exercise is not aired by the media.

The sources in the know cited Section 126 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which deals with prohibition of public meetings or propagating and displaying election matter to the public, during the operation of silence period.

Silence period begins 48 hours ahead of the conclusion of poll. Silence period for the last phase, in which Modi’s constituency of Varanasi also goes for poll, begins at 6 PM on Thursday.

However, the provisions of the election law are not applicable in case of multi-phased elections — when the polls are held on different dates — if the content of election matter relates to subsequent phases and in no way, have any reference to the polling area under silence period, they said, citing a press note issued by EC last month.

So long as one does not talk about the locality where election is happening there is no bar, the sources underlined.

If there are no spoken words as reported, there seems to be no violation, they added. Similar permission was given by the Commission to the PM during 2019 Lok Sabha polls when election was scheduled in Varanasi during last phase on May 19.

Explore in-depth coverage of Lok Sabha Election 2024 Voter Turnout, Upcoming Phase, Results Date, Exit Poll And Much More At News18 Website

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)



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