RSS is working to divide the people, Oppn united against govt: Rahul Gandhi
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RSS is working to divide the people, Oppn united against govt: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi says Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will soon see the strength of India.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2018 22:56 IST
HT Correspondent
Rahul Gandhi,Congress,OBC
Congress President Rahul Gandhi in a moment of silence during the meeting with national executives of Congress Seva Dal, at AICC Headquarter, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, June 11, 2018. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi promised on Monday that just three people cannot run India and that the Opposition was uniting against the current government. He went on to name those three people — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Gandhi was speaking at an event organised by the Congress party’s Other Backward Classes (OBC) cell. Called the OBC Sammelan (gathering), it was held at New Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium.

“All of the Opposition is uniting, and, within a time frame of six to seven months or a year, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Mohan Bhagwat will realise the strength of India. They will realise that only three people cannot run the country,” Gandhi said.

In his speech, Gandhi also alleged that the RSS was conspiring to divide the OBCs, so that a divided community loses its power to negotiate.

“RSS is a force working to divide the people. It wants to drive a wedge in the OBC community,” Gandhi alleged.

He also said if India has to progress, the bulk of the population cannot be disrespected and that the Congress party was committed to empowering members of the OBC community.

“The Congress will deliver what is your right. We will stand by you wherever you need us,” Gandhi said. He promised that the OBC community would see better treatment from the Congress than they have received from the RSS and the BJP.

“The Congress party will bring you in Vidhan Sabhas, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” said Gandhi. “We wish to empower you. We will not put you in a bus with a ‘do not disturb’ board, but will hand over the keys to you.”

Gandhi attacked Modi’s policies, arguing they were not meritocratic. He said systems in foreign countries had allowed the humble to prosper and likened the founder of Coca-Cola to a “shikanji seller”, which earned him ridicule on social media.

The BJP has also been working to cultivate support among the OBCs, particularly the non-Yadav backward communities IN? who are both under-represented and underprivileged.

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh set up a four-member committee to take a fresh look at whether reservation to all backward and most backward castes (MBCs) is commensurate with their numbers. The Modi government, too, proposed to set up a commission to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of the OBC in August.

A move to accord constitutional status to the backward classes commission is also under process.

The BJP alleged Gandhi’s speech was strategic. “They [the Congress] did nothing for the communities when they were in power. Now they have suddenly developed love for the backwards,” said union minister Ram Kripal Yadav.

“They always needed the votes of backward, but never worked for their welfare. It is only Narendra Modi who worked for their upliftment.”

The OBCs are a diverse category and its communities add up to almost half of the Indian electorate. They are regarded as a crucial vote bank and the Congress has not had the support of many of these communities in recent elections.

Data from National Election Studies (NES) shows the party did have the OBCs support between 1996 and 2009. However, by 2014, the BJP had consolidated its base among OBCs while Congress has been losing their support.

Gandhi’s outreach comes at a time when the loss of this vote bank has reduced the Congress to a fringe player in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which account for 120 seats in the Lok Sabha.

First Published: Jun 11, 2018 18:01 IST