Congress on Friday reiterated Narendra Modi is a "fake" OBC, rejecting Gujarat government's claim that a 1994 notification had brought his Modh-Ghanchi caste in the OBC category.
"Whatever Congress spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil said Thursday is absolutely correct because the notification was issued by the Gujarat government on January 1, 2002 when Modi was the chief minister," party general secretary Ajay Maken told reporters.
He said what was "surprising" is that the notification of the Centre on the OBC category to the Modh Ghanchi community, to which Modi belongs, came just six months before Modi became the CM "so that when he is made CM, it could be shown that he is an OBC Chief Minister."
In response to Gohil's remarks, Gujarat government on Thursday said its social welfare department had issued a notification on July 25, 1994, which included 36 groups as Other Backward Classes. It said Modh Ghanchi is mentioned at number 25 (B).
Maken, however, said the Gujarat government is talking about report of "a Commission that was presented in the state in 1994."
He said in 1999, Gujarat government went to the Centre in connection with the report when BJP was in power in the state and NDA at the Centre.
"In 2000, the central government came out with a notification that the Modh Ghanchi caste should be added in the OBC list," he said.
His remark came when asked about Gujarat government's claim that the Congress government led by Chabildas Mehta, in 1994, in which Gohil was also a minister had passed the notification.
The BJP, however, also took a swipe at the Congress, saying the caste of its prime ministerial candidate has become a major cause of "worry" for that party.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said though Modi has never made caste as his identity and his appeal cuts across castes and communities, the Congress worry is apparent as the ruling dynasty of the Congress cannot "digest defeat" at the hands of a commoner.
Holding that Congress had earlier made Modi's "humble origin" as a tea vendor into an issue but the move backfired, Jaitley asked in his blog whether Congress believed that every time a caste is added to the OBC list it is a sin (paap).
BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said, "It shows the tendency of the Congress to indulge in low-level politics. The issue of Narendra Modi's caste raised by Congress is not based on facts...such low-level politics is being played in despair, despondency and aggression to divert the attention of people from the core issues," he said.
Narendra Modi hands over his nomination papers to the collector at Vadodara.
Trivedi said Congress had first raised the issue of Modi's personal life, then "bogies" of communalism and now they have touched his caste.
"We want to question Rahul Gandhi if the Congress leaders, who are raising Modi's caste issue, are indulging in 'neech karam' (lowly deeds) as he had himself said there is no neech jaati (lowly caste) but only neech karam," Trivedi said.